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It Speaks For Itself July 13, 2010

Posted by Jason in Daily PM.
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Have you ever been in a situation where you felt that “the data speaks for itself?”  Most in the engineering, architecture, or even accounting fields likely have. In these and other technically oriented environments, we become accustomed to spreadsheets, graphs, and equations. They provide an easily accessible alternative dimension to problems and can aid in visualizing solutions.

But they aren’t for everyone.

A professional who regularly deals with data can lose sight of the fact that charts and graphs are only part of the story. After spending weeks compiling mathematical support for an argument or solution, it can be quite frustrating to present it to a client or the public who must then be led by the hand from the beginning to arrive at the same conclusions.

But lead them you must. The data almost never speak for themselves. They require a story, an analogy, anything that can connect the abstract to your audience’s experiences. Without this, any persuasion you hope to muster will be strongly counteracted by everyone else’s natural dislike of numbers and squiggly lines. Without it, you will be just another Powerpoint statistic.

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