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The bog known as presentation data

“You won’t be able to see this at the back of the room, so let me explain it to you.”

Presentations call on speakers to make a good impression, possibly on people whom they have never met, and have them coming away with a body of information that leaves them much more knowledgeable than they were before the presentation.

Such a challenge, or opportunity, as optimists would see it, often causes presenters to load up on as much information as they can gather. The more data they have, the more impressive they will be, or so the thinking goes.

In his book “The Presentation Lab” Simon Morton warns against presentations that become bogged down in a deluge of data or silos of statistics. He writes that these typically manifest themselves in hyper-detailed content accompanied by busy and complex slide decks. He wrote that the quote at the beginning of this piece is a dead giveaway.

When it comes to data-heavy content, Morton stresses the following:

  • The speaker still needs a strong message around which to build the person’s story;
  • This message needs to be supported with relevant content; and,
  • This content needs to be visualized in a way that connects with the audience.

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