The Drive-In Feel

Before the COVID-19 era, some would imagine the perfect date night to include dinner and a movie; for some rare locations, even a drive-in movie!

One of the most special parts of going to a theater for movie night rather than experiencing the movie at home was being able to share a solid two hours with someone experiencing the same new thing together. It is something new and the emotions and reactions expressed are raw. In a way, data stories should captivate your audience as well. I’m not saying that these data story presentations are going to be Spielberg spectaculars, but they should be beautiful and engaging and you should try to immerse yourself into this experience WITH your audience.

 

DISCOVERING NEW THINGS

Perhaps one of the most underrated ways to engage your audience is by interacting with them in a way that suggests you’re also experiencing this information for the first time WITH them. Try using any of the following tactics during your next presentation:

  • Elevate your facial expressions.
  • React to each piece of insightful information.
  • Speak to your audience as if you’re a part of it. An example of this is after you reach a compelling piece of information, say something like: “That definitely gives you something to think about.”
    • Speaking to this brings your audience’s attention to something important and also helps them reach the realization that this piece of information may be crucial to the point you’re looking to make.

 

WHY THE EXPERIENCE MATTERS

When you bring yourself to the same perspective as your audience, it allows you to help them understand the presentation the way you want it to be understood. Sometimes visuals just aren’t enough and those watching need a little nudging of sorts. 

 

Not every data story is going to be interesting -- that’s just the nature of the game -- but we have to chug along and make sure those watching see the point and help answer any questions that need to be addressed from the data provided. It is your responsibility to ensure that your audience gets there, no matter how boring or potentially captivating what you’re presenting may be. 

When you’re just reading from a page or directly from the presentation itself, you’re not actively able to watch your audience and gauge their level of understanding or interest and that’s a major faux pas in this game. You need to make sure you’re part of this experience and acting as though this is the first time you’re hearing this information as well is a wonderful way to do it. It can help bring the the executive board member who keeps getting messages on his phone back to the right headspace, allow the secretary taking notes some time to catch up, and being everyone back to the same page because people can just have trouble seeing what you’re trying to convey without being lead to that space in an expressive and entertaining way.

 

LIGHTEN UP

Every movie has a climax, and even the saddest movies have happy parts. It’s crucial to make sure you’re including positive moments into even the most dreaded data story presentations (especially those delivering bad news).

Always plan for at least two or three impactful moments during each presentation to ensure your audience is understanding everything you’re giving them. These moments should include any good information you have to present and should be presented in such a light that makes the audience want to discuss and share pieces of information with each other once you’ve concluded.

You really should try to inspire your audience in ways that create a positive conversation point immediately after finishing; sometimes this can happen during and that’s when you know you’re really heading in the right direction!



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