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Speaking to Data

While earning my Masters in Statistics, I was a Teaching Assistant for a statistics class for students who were afraid of math but needed a math credit.  This ended up being one of the most crucial grad school learning opportunities that led to my ability to be an impactful analytics leader in the tech world (yes, even more than the actual stats!).

To get my students to understand the concepts they needed to learn for the classes, I had to make it approachable for them.  I would often find that if I asked a student in this class the odds of a coin toss being heads or tails, they couldn’t answer.  If I asked someone about the odds of a coin toss on the street, they could generally tell me 50/50.  However, once I put them in the context and world of “a math classroom,” the students froze up. It was like deer in a headlight - "You're asking me a math question, math is hard, I don't know!"

Working in analytics in tech I found this experience occurring frequently.  It is generally societally acceptable that math is hard, data is scary, experimentation results are confusing - how am I supposed to use what you’re telling me to make business decisions?!  Thus I’ve found, the communication of data has been one of the most important investments to enable impact within analytics.

So, how do you communicate data and insights well?  I guide teams to focus on three areas:

  • Present the data in easy to follow visuals with clear labels

  • Explain the concepts simply, tying to the customer experience

  • Encourage and empower analysts who have spent time deep in the data to share their interpretations - what does the data tell us?  What does it mean?

If this is an area your company or team could improve in to enable more impactful decision making, please reach out to find out more about data storytelling training.

Speaker pointing to chart


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