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Paint Your Organization's Picture With Data

Leadership through effective presentations is an essential skill

From MBAs to managers, leadership through effective presentations is an essential skill. With the enormous amount of data that managers use to inform decisions, show results and classify problems, data graphics are a simple, yet efficient means to communicate these data findings. It is a way of showing quantitative information visually. At its core, data visualization is the process of creating data graphics for the purposes of exploration, communication or decision-making. Knowing how to visualize data as charts is a competence that managers can develop with training.

When I first started teaching data visualization in both academic and professional settings, the all too common initial response from the learners was that it was likely that someone else, such as an intern, would be creating their data presentations. Although they thought this was a valuable skill to learn, some felt that the task was not something that an aspiring manager would spend their time doing.

I realized I had to sell the value of data visualization as a leadership skill, rather than a technique. I focused on the business case rather than solely on the technical details. For example, how does the information presented in the data graphic help someone make a decision? What is the value proposition? A visualization can simplify the way you communicate a complex analysis to stakeholders. Whether it be a model to predict customer conversion, identify new markets, or improve a process, those insights will most often be presented in the form of a data graphic. The graphics serve as evidence that support the new idea, initiative or solution.

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