If you are applying for the data school or working on your first client project, you are probably thinking – “How can I give a killer presentation on my dashboard?” This blog will share with you my best tips that I’ve learnt so far over 9 weeks of data school training.

1. Be very clear on the purpose of the dashboard

As a consultant (or future consultant), your purpose is to help your audience to make the best decisions. However, a well-designed dashboard is not always enough to get that result. There is one more step – give a compelling presentation.

The first thing you need to do is to tell your audience what problems can be solved by the dashboard. Because there is no way you can give a good presentation unless you have something worth talking about.

2. Remember that your audience have no clue what your dashboard is showing

You know your dashboard inside and out because you built it. However, your audience just had it pop up in front of them, so don’t expect them to parse it in 5 seconds.

I watched some of Hans Rosling’s presentations before my final interview for The Data School application. Here is a four minute presentation from him. Before diving into any insights, Hans Rosling took his time to explain the chart, the axis, the marks, the colors, and the size.  It is almost like he is building a chart live in front of you, for that reason, you know exactly how his chart works before he starts to tell his stories.

PS: Hans Rosling’s book Factfullness gave me a new perspective on the world, and is one of the biggest reasons that made me change careers to become a data analyst. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend you to!

3. Tell an appealing story with use cases

When you present a dashboard to clients, you are not trying to explain how the dashboard was built nor how the functions work. Instead, you want to tell highly specific examples to demonstrate how the dashboard should be used, and communicate the insights found. In Hans Rosling’s presentation, he started with explaining the trend of the entire world, and specified the movement of some continents. Finally, he drilled down to country level by using China as an example.

4. Draw attention to the area you are discussing

There are normally different charts on a dashboard, so it is important for you to direct your audience to where you want them to look.

These days most of your presentations are on zoom, or at least part of your audience is zooming in. You can’t point or use a laser pointer to draw attention. I recommend you to make it a habit to press Ctrl to show the location of your mouse. Here is how you can set it up if you are a Windows user:

If you are giving a presentation in person. There is a trick called ‘touch, turn and talk’ I learned from PK (a brilliant presenter who taught us presentation techniques, and will probably meet you in your data school final interview).

Here is how you can implement it: You will touch on the screen where you want your audience to focus, turn back to your audience, and then you are going to talk. Make sure you don’t be one of those presenters who briefly and vaguely points to the slide. Because no one but yourself knows where exactly you just pointed!

5. Only present what your audience needs to know, and no more

If you have dived deep into your data, you probably have done a lot of exploring and have loads of insights. I know it is hard to restrain the impulse to tell people every intething you have learned. However, keep in mind not 100% of your findings will be useful for your audience’s decision making. Tell different stories to different audiences, instead of telling everyone everything. Because they won’t be interested, and they certainly won’t remember.

I hope this blog is helpful for your next presentation. I’m available on LinkedIn if you have any comments or questions. Thanks for reading as always. 🙂

Summer Dong
Author: Summer Dong