Strategic communication is all about how to communicate with purpose while showcasing the value of your data to reach a specific goal. Powerful visualizations, neatly written insights and storytelling design applied to your presentation mean nothing if you don't communicate value.
“Your success in life will be determined largely by your
ability to speak, your ability to write, and the quality of
your ideas, in that order.”
— Patrick Winston, MIT
Every community uses a code to communicate value. Data literate professionals make no exception. Foster familiarity with the code and use the right process, words, and visuals to acknowledge the community, accommodate the flow and generate the right amount of tension. With data, you need to be able to communicate value in your narratives, in your data visuals, reports, and presentations.
With data, value derives from the following:
Acknowledgment of your audience - Acknowledge your audience, show that you heard their concerns, listened to their struggles, identified with them as you undertook this data journey. You are one of them, you are here for them.
The empowerment promise - Start by making a promise that by the end of your presentation or data report your audience will be able to understand something and will be able to act on that something.
Sharing a vision - Share your passion. Show enthusiasm. Show what the data means to you at a personal level and then state what it means to the world. Why is what you did cool or important? What have you discovered with your data? Charisma means embedding your personality in what you share and convey authenticity. Don't fear to show your data struggles, hurdles, or successes.
Showing that you've done something - Stats and data narratives take effort to produce. Share the problem, the approach, enumerate all the steps and state your contributions. You actually need to get your audience on board so they feel part of the process.
Building a fence - Distinguish your idea, distinguish your work and your data. Show why what you have is special, different, or attention-worthy. State what your data is but also what it is not.
Use of visual assets - With visuals, less is always more. Value means less clutter, less data-ink, and having room for showcasing your data visualization. Using contrasts, positioning, sizing relative to importance, relevant apparatus, and visual assets will save time, facilitate understanding, and will inspire your audience.
Use of hints of value in your narrative - Words by themselves are very important and we, as fast-paced professionals, are always in a rush. We tend to quickly sweep through words to find hints of value. Be mindful that it is more about what your audience is prepared to learn and less about what you want to share with your audience. Subtle hints signal to your community either acknowledgment or challenge. Challenging the community is always a mistake. Positioning yourself entirely outside of what is known, what is established, comfortable and safe for your community will always make your statements lack validity and get your data contribution rejected.
Stating contributions - In stating your contributions you need to recap on what you did, what you just demonstrated, and what your audience got out of it. Lengthy pages of conclusions or recommendations are not the way to go about this. Your contributions need to be specific on what was done, how, and for what major benefit.
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