To a data science, there is nothing more exciting than the data revealing insights about real organizational issues. However, it is completely deflating to present the insights to management and accomplish nothing.
From talking to other data professionals, here are a few tips for overcoming this situation when presenting your data analysis.
Don't Over Dazzle Them with Your Brilliance
One marketing vice president revealed that he wasn't persuasive until he understood how to talk to the audience in front of him. This executive has a Ph.D. in statistics, so it's fair to say that he knows about data analysis.
During his first job, he wasn't having much success when presenting his analysis to the management staff. Finally, another manager revealed that the presentations had such advanced analytics; he felt stupid! He frequently didn't understand what was being presented and was afraid to ask questions in front of others.
The presentation made the listener feel stupid‚??-‚??how much do you think he listened after that? Ouch! In his effort to dazzle with these brilliant insights, he had failed to consider the audience. When presenting to business leaders, consider how much analysis is necessary to make your case. Perhaps talking about standard deviations and t-tests are too much detail or detail at the wrong level. It depends on the company culture.
Many times managers want a higher level of detail and trust that you have done your homework. If you are worried that the detailed analysis is required for some of the experts in the room, anticipate their questions and add some backup slides.
Tip 1: The ability to persuade with data analysis has to match your audience's level of understanding.
People Want to Help Other People
At a recent conference, while having breakfast, an attendee commented that he knew his school could rise from a third position to the top position in the state. Within a few moments, he rattled through 15 statistical measurements that did convince me that the goal was within reach.
When thinking about all the work involved in that goal, it felt like a huge challenge to me. I didn't have an easy answer while trying to eat a day old danish.
He couldn't get his colleagues to listen to him. I suspect he was having an issue similar to the gent in the previous story. He was telling teachers that if they could improve one standard deviation‚??-‚??everything would be perfect.
After discussing the issue, I advised him to consider adding the human to the data since the audience may be more drawn to helping individual students become better than the district as a whole. People like to help other people and educators like to help students, right? I walked away feeling pretty smug and enjoying some fresh coffee.
Tip 2: Understand your audience! Some audiences can be persuaded more with a goal of helping others than a lofty management goal that just seems like more work.
Smaller Issues are Easier to Solve
Later when I was talking to another conference attendee, he offered some additional insight. Sometimes the number one position for the school may be as close as 50 students improving. This thought reduced the size of the issue.
Instead of "how do we bring the entire school district to number one?" it could be "how do help 50 students excel in their academic careers?" and then meet our goal?
You can present specific instances of these students and learn what was needed in each case. There may be a pattern in these 50 students! Perhaps the team would be able to find cost-effective solutions to move the school district forward. Management reaches their goal, and the educators do what they enjoy‚??-‚??teaching students.
Tip 3: Is the achievement closer than you think? A smaller problem is easier to solve and requires the help of fewer people.