What happens when we drown our stories in information
Goldilocks Principle applies to just about everything
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Chances are you look at a lot of data at work. For most, we could even argue that it’s too much data.
A decade ago, we’d have thought that swimming in data was the utopia. Too much data? No such thing. But today, we’re juggling countless dashboards and anomaly alerts that need your attention: “Red alert: your engagement rate in Tbilisi, Georgia decreased by 75%”.
Nothing is important when everything is important, and I’m here to argue that dashboards are poor storytellers.
We’re all here (here, as in reading this newsletter) because we want to become better storytellers. So let’s talk about how to make the experience of consuming, digesting, and sharing data easier for our audience.
Like any good story, we must “Goldilocks” the amount of information (not too much, not too little — juuuust right). This means balancing the amount of data and the amount of context. We too often see dashboards that lack context or presentations that share 12 metrics and leave us cross-eyed.
Here are some basic tenets when it comes to sharing an analysis or important data:
Assume your audience will only remember one or two metrics. Choose your primary metrics wisely. Know the secondary metrics by heart, but keep them in your pocket for now.
Start with the conclusion (inverted pyramid!), then build context around the metric.
Remind the audience why this metric is the primary metric. Look for disagreement before going any further into the narrative.
This framework helps avoid context overload (e.g., we did X and Y last month, Z clearly didn’t work, A, B, and C could have worked, and by the way, here’s how we define D) and instead focus on chauffeuring my audience to the desired destination.
Raman at Rhetoric
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