Last week we had the opportunity to attend Achieving the Dream: 2017 Data and Analytics Summit hosted at The Hotel at University of Maryland. The conference was geared towards providing attendees insight into different analytical processes and sharing best practices between the various colleges present. The major themes included: moving the needle on completion percentages, improving transfer outcomes by using National Clearing House data, and the overall need for data analytics/literacy/ science program offerings to help close the employment gap in the field.
Although the majority of the conference was spent talking about the hard skills involved in the data analytics process, one of the most insightful presentations was by David Katz—Executive Director of Organizational Development at Mohawk Valley Community College—who spoke on the importance of compelling communication of data. David spent time detailing several concepts he leverages to improve communication with his audiences; I’ve summarized a few of the most notable ones below:
“People are, first and foremost, emotional beings. Communication on the cognitive level is not going to ‘move’ anybody”. Presentations need to combine information with inspiration in order to move an audience to action.
Be passionate. You can’t ignore someone who is passionate.
Stories stick. A compelling story is living proof of an idea.
Leverage the power of visuals. The picture (e.g. dashboard or chart) can be the memorable thing that recalls the information behind it.
“People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou
Bottom line, it’s easy to get carried away with providing just the facts and data that support your conclusions, but content alone isn’t enough to drive your audience to action. At HelioCampus, we’re passionate about providing better insights through data, and strive to ensure those insights have meaningful and lasting impacts. And by focusing on both the hard and soft skills involved in that, we think we are able to achieve that.