Published On: September 1, 2019Categories: Data Visualization

How to Sell Big Ideas Using Data Visualization

Data visualization is an integral part of any good presentation. Whether you’re a consultant, CEO, project manager, sales manager, or anything in between, better data visualization will help you sell your ideas.

However, better data doesn’t mean you can present it effectively. 

“Data” is only as valuable as you make it. You have to be able to gather it, understand it, visualize it in a compelling way, and then present it with context and analysis.

This is a learned skill that you can only get by sitting down and doing the work. If you’ve ever had to present data in front of an audience, you know how important it is to have a visual that complements your findings.

To give you real, tactical tips on how to better leverage data visualization in your presentations, we teamed up with Archana Kshirsagar, a thought leader in analytics, data science, and data visualization. She has over 15 years of experience in researching, designing, and implementing data warehousing, business intelligence (BI) and predictive analytics products and services. Archana is the founder of VueInsights LLC, an agile, self-service analytics firm providing Business Intelligence, Data Science and AI consulting to startups and large companies. She is also the Senior Vice President of Global Operations and Strategy at JLL.

Data Visualization in Practice

It’s time for your meeting. People are filing in, nodding, laughing, and chatting about the latest episode of Stranger Things. Soon everyone sits and settles, and all eyes shift towards you, the storyteller, who Steve Jobs once said is the most powerful person in the world.

Right now, in this room, you’re the storyteller. You’re powerful. What story do you plan to tell?

If your story involves data visualization, then chances are that you, like most business leaders and executives, fish from a bountiful, never-ending stream of real-time numbers and letters–a stream supposedly designed to help you make smart, strategic business decisions with ease. But that’s not always what happens. Sometimes, despite best intentions, you struggle to make meaning from the myriads of data visualization reports, most of which don’t tell a clear business story. So, where do you start?

In Archana Kshirsagar’s experience, you need 4 elements to tell data-based stories that inspire and engage.

1 – Answer The “So-What?”

What’s the story, or the hook, that your data supports?

First and foremost, get a clear understanding of the business challenge your data solves. Analyze what happened. Figure out “why now?”

Determine what’s possible based on the information. Illustrate your story with key statistics. And then use what you’ve learned to build the so-what narrative most executives are looking for.

Without this situational context, you risk losing your audience early on, so give them what they need.

2 – Tell Different Stories To Different Audiences 

Yeah, yeah … everyone says to know your audience.

When data visualization is involved, sharing the right message with the right audience at the right time is crucial. The same story may not apply to every listener.

Executives may want to know about the quarterly financial impact and business risk, while business leaders look for weekly actionable insights and functional knowledge. Managers may look for daily operational indicators, while analysts focus on the data sources and technical aspects of the reporting.

Switch up your data story by what the audience expects and needs to see. A personalized approach is the cherry on top of your persuasion sundae.

3 – Use Data Visualization Tools 

Data visualization is where most presentations fail.

You’ve either got:

  • Too much clutter and cognitive overload, with pie charts and graphs everywhere.
  • A disarray of scattered visuals that don’t match or make any sense. 

Either approach will confuse your audience. 

A good data visualization presentation, on the other hand, is easy to understand, draws an audience’s attention without the overwhelm, and layers an interactive, exploratory framework for logical decision making. 

The best way to master data visualization is to use tools designed specifically for it. is built specifically for smarter data visualizations for brands, plugging in your data with smart, AI-powered suggestions. It’s the fastest, cleanest way to make your visualizations tell a cohesive story instead of a slapdash mosaic of images.

4 – Build Stories To Drive The Point Home

To create a great story, look for ways to unite ideas, arouse emotions, and inspire audiences to question the status quo.

Does your fourth-quarter report point to the increasing competition? Maybe it’s time to consider lapsing old products or tapping new markets.

Is a new partnership between marketing and purchasing bubbling under the surface? Let numbers tell the story a new partnership will reveal.

Then, add to those story elements strategically positioned repetition, clear calls to action, and thoughtful, enlightening questions, and you’ll drive your point home to applause.

The Bottom Line

What is data visualization if not a better way to showcase data? Follow Archana Kshirsagar’s 4 tips to master data visualization for snappy, persuasive presentations that tell a story.

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