Your Data Presentations Are Getting More Yawns Than Applause – Here’s How To Fix That

Irvin Akopov

No presenter ever wants to see their audience members looking at their watches. But when you’ve been tasked with sharing data with your clients or customers, you may find yourself losing their attention sooner than you’d like.

Numbers can be overwhelming and even lost on the average person during a presentation, but that doesn’t mean they should be excluded. Data is a critical component in nearly every aspect of business – from decision making to strategy to analyzing behavior and efficacy of tactics.

The secret to making data the highlight of your presentation is by incorporating visually appealing elements, such as visualizations and infographics, to get the numbers across to your audience. Here are four reasons why visuals are the cornerstone to making your data presentation a more consumable and engaging experience.

1. Visuals tell a better story, naturally

Trying to digest data in real time is a lot like trying to understand a foreign language in real time. Studies show visuals help us learn and absorb information better (including data and language) by simplifying complex ideas. We are born pre-wired to consume visual data efficiently. It provides a fast track to our natural way of thinking and parsing information.

This graph shows the relationship between revenue, gross margin, and associated category ID in one simple visual presentation.


If you were given the choice to read a spreadsheet packed with numbers or a snapshot visualization highlighting the same exact data, which one would you prefer? Most likely the visualization, which is easily consumable and more visually interesting, instead of raw numbers on their own which can bury trajectories and actionable insight.

2. Data visualization helps you easily spot and create insightful goals

Data natively carries a lot of useful and relevant information, but can be overwhelming if there is no good way of interpreting it. Visuals intelligently organize the relevant data into one cohesive story. They can point out where a company is failing, help improve operations and cash flow, and even push companies to capitalize in areas they wouldn’t have considered before. They can also easily showcase micro trends alongside macro trends without having to get into copious amounts of numerical details.

3. Data visualization can foster better communication

Visuals help to unite all lines of business, from finance to human resources to marketing. They help illustrate the bigger picture, without data overload, decreasing the time wasted on excessive email exchanges between departments. A great visual can align targets and objectives across departments and provide compelling reasoning without having to educate the audience as to the specific metrics for every line of business.

4. You don’t have to be a genius to create charts and graphs

Creating visualizations with data visualization tools can be as simple as dragging and dropping. For example, with a tool, like SAP Lumira, you just open or import your data and the software provides instant access to the visual of your choice. You can also compile data from various sources, like spreadsheets and databases, and allows you to combine and enrich the data all in one place. From there, you can generate your awe-inspiring visual story.

For more on how to use data to boost your business, see Algorithms: The New Means of Production.

Irvin Akopov

About Irvin Akopov

Irvin Akopov is a senior marketing manager for SAP, leading digital marketing programs, demand generation and content strategy. He regularly contributes to editorial thought leadership on the topics of analytics, visualization and data storytelling.