Improve Data Reporting with One Simple Technique

Tell the story behind why something happened not the dry numbers

Jeff bezos championed a thing called the 6 page memo in Amazon

It was a memo an executive would hand out to the management team and over the course of a 60 minute meeting the attendees would read through the memo, make notes, prep questions and discuss the subject.

When it comes to data analysts are often very proud of their dashboards, their clean data sets and their funky SQL statements that produced the data for the dashboards. However it doesn’t always help communicate the subject well.

Just like Bezos I have found simply stated written communication far better.

I've found it helpful when communicating findings to write the data report as if you're a journalist.

This is the part everyone should understand.

Statistics aren't discussed except as reference numbers where you link to deeper parts of your document or tools (if they're possible to link - even better).

So you tell the story why something happened not the dry numbers.

An Example

Our organic search team continue to outperform all other media (1) in terms of sales. Charlie Green The Head of Search puts it down to our recent changes to the website which makes it easier to read on mobile(2) and our continued improvements to the writing(3). Charlie believes in the process on content, and encourages we continue to invest our time in it.

1, 2 & 3 here would all have numbers that back up this paragraph as appendices to the report. The numbers also suggest that there is proof to back up the story, something the reader might be curious about.

It’s not necessary to do a 6 page summary but you want something that you put in an email to send to your peers that gets the point across in seconds and then provides the detail.

Most people are busy

Opening a 10 page powerpoint or a link to a dashboard that a layperson then needs to work out is more difficult than reading a short summary of what happened and what to do next.

Think on that just before you send your next report to your stakeholders.

Save them time but make them curious enough to look at the findings (1, 2 and 3).

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