As professionals gain knowledge, skills, and abilities, they often become technical experts that are relied upon for their expertise. One of the most important skills these individuals can have is the ability to translate nitty-gritty technical data into something stakeholders can leverage to make good decisions for the business. In this post, we’ll talk about the five pillars of effectively communicating business-relevant results.
- Know the Problem – Analysts or subject-matter experts are brought in to help solve a problem by gaining more insight into it. Throughout the presentation (and analysis for that matter) you should constantly be asking yourself if the information you are sharing will help to resolve the problem at hand. Is it directly relevant to the conversation? It can be tempting to communicate as much as possible to demonstrate your expertise, but this is rarely the most effective approach.
- Know Your Audience – Knowing your audience is an important element of effectively communicating results. Understanding how the other people in the room prefer to absorb information is crucial to your preparation. What level of detail do they prefer? Would they want high-level bullets or an opportunity to view the data itself? What format do they prefer? Are they more comfortable leafing through a report that they can hold in their hands, or would they rather have the information presented to them via a PowerPoint deck? Understanding your audience’s preferences is key.
- Know Your Material – Another crucial element to ensuring a strong presentation is to be an expert on the material. Senior leaders will prefer that you start at a high level and only get into the details if necessary or if they have a pertinent question. This is not a free pass to only familiarize yourself with the basics of the presentation. Instead, take time to think through questions that are likely to be asked, and even those that just might be asked. Bring any additional materials with you in case they need to be referenced, though the more you can independently answer questions, the better. If you are not able to provide an answer, say so directly, and include a commitment to get an answer as quickly as possible.
- Know How to Visualize your Data – All bar graphs, pie charts, and scatterplots are not created equal. In fact, different forms of data lend themselves strongly to different mediums of communication. For example, compared to a stacked bar graph, a set of overlaid line graphs are usually much better for comparing two variables over time. There are many resources available online to help with data visualization. If you are not making this an intentional and prioritized element of your preparation, then you may not be equipping yourself to have the best presentation possible.
- Know the Business/Industry – To be a strategic partner you must understand other parts of the business. Be intentional about gaining cross-functional knowledge and leverage it to ensure that you are focusing on the right things. You’ll want to end your presentation with recommendations and next steps. Having a strong understanding of how the business works will put you in a much better position to offer practical solutions. This maximizes the value that your analyses create for the organization.
Translating complex technical data into meaningful business insight can be a difficult challenge. However, those who do it well are invaluable resources for their companies or clients. Consider these elements and take the time to ensure your presentation is as good as it can be. You may see the main event as the analyses, but with proper communication, you will have the best impact possible.
At PRADCO, we have the experience, drive, and tools to be your partner in hiring and developing talent. We’ll take the time to learn about your organization and customize solutions for you. We’re ready to help you hire and promote with confidence. If you’re ready to get started, let’s talk.