Down with Data Dumps!

Down with data dumps!   Think about the last endlessly long meeting you attended during which speaker after speaker tried — and inevitably failed — to capture your attention as he presented dense slides with data-packed charts and graphs.  Even if you could see the slide, you had no idea what it was supposed to be telling you.   Typically the speaker apologizes as the slide appears saying, “I know you can’t see this chart, but if you could….”  Then the speaker struggles to make his point because it is buried somewhere in the messy morass of numbers.   What’s happening is that the speaker has lost the story he is trying to tell because his slide is data-driven, rather than data-informed.  He’s forgotten that the point of the presentation isn’t to do a data dump on your audience, rather to convey smart ideas that persuade and drive decisions.

Too often speakers think the answer is to add more information, fancier builds and transitions, more color and myriad fonts to their PowerPoint presentation.   Instead, they should spend their time focusing on the point they want to make and simplifying the complex for their audience.

In sharp contrast to the speaker struggling to move through his overly complex slide presentation, is the speaker who captures your attention and is supported by clear, compelling slides.   Instead of dense charts and graphs, he has a mix of images, bold statements and highlighted graphics that focus the audience’s attention.  The speaker with a story to tell is unencumbered by too much data, his delivery is liberated and dynamic, and his audience gets his point.

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