From Numbers to Information

Being part of an organization and constantly managing different types of resources, a lot of my answers involve critical information. How that information is presented is essential for the success of the intended message.

Taking care of a Risk Management strategy is an important step while managing a team-work project. Learn useful actions and why Risk Management Worth the Effort.

Difference Between Data and Information

Data is unorganized facts and numbers. Data on its own does not have meaning or a message. When data is processed and given an interpretation is when it becomes information. 

Information is valuable when it is used to support ideas and decisions. What do you want to say? What do you need to say? What’s the main thing you need your audience to get? What decisions do you need to impulse? What’s the information you need to push that YES?

Sometimes a good proposal does not progress because of the way the information is presented. Specially for technical people, the way the message is shown has an irrelevant place in the pitches or reports and that is a huge mistake. Let’s see some tips that could help to use your information in a more intelligent way!

 Significant Digits

The number you are presenting means something and represents something in the subject it is referring to. Adjust the number of digits to the meaning of the number. It really makes the eye ache when you see: 

Sales: $ 2918989.17 

If you are showing cents in the millions order number, you don’t know its meaning, and if you don’t know what you are talking about, should you be saying it at all?

Something like:  Sales: $ 2918989 is better, for sure.

Order of Magnitude

Here is (one of the multiple places) where all your Maths years pay off.  Following the previous example, you can provide a short number just by changing the unit in which your cipher is given. 

Sales: $ 2.9M   or Sales: $ 2918K

 Most probably, your audience will be pleased to receive simplified information. It is so much easy to remember 3 numbers than 6 or more. 

An Image is Worth a Thousand Words

For comparisons, tendencies, and batches of data, you could add charts and graphs. They are the next level for information presentation. Here, the type of chart is the most important point. You need to be able to transmit the message without talking too much. If you need to explain it with a long introduction, it is not good.  

Use historical data, benchmarking or projection to make a point. And on the other side, if the data doesn’t support your idea, don’t use it.  If you get your answer without it, great for you. You also should consider a career as a politician! 

Combine Tools

There are some other resources that can be used to emphasize an idea: colors, fonts, icons. All the designs you can get will be fruitful.  If you are interested in how to use colors, here’s another blog post: “Color Me!” – That’s The Sound of Your Report Calling For Help.

Language Confusion

It is very important to set the language you are presenting and stick to it until the end, especially for things like separators or units. For example, in English and Spanish separators are different. In Spanish commas separate the integer part of a number from the digital part. In English, the point is used instead.  The same happens with “billions”. In Spanish, it means a million times millions. In English, a thousand times millions. There’s a lot of money in between! 

In order to make your impact, you need to master the information you are provided. Spend some time and thought in the way you are showing them!

Taking care of a Risk Management strategy is an important step while managing a team-work project. Learn useful actions and why Risk Management Worth the Effort.

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