Data is everywhere these days, that also means we got accustomed to looking at data to find meaning in situations that are difficult to interpret.

And so, if you present numbers or percentages, be aware of two things.

First, if that is all you have to say, people will get bored fast. If you do not have a story to accompany your data, if you cannot tell what the data means to you, to your organisation, to your purpose, if you cannot express how things could look different in case an alternative path had been chosen, then the time is pretty much wasted. Sure, you can look at history and see how those numbers and percentages have evolved, compare them with similar ones, but eventually none of that will inspire action.

Second, what numbers and percentages mean to you is not necessarily in line with what they mean to somebody else. Data might be universal, their interpretation is not. And so, be prepared at being challenged and having to inspire people to believe the story you read is more accurate than others. Follow up on that, repeat, look at it from different angles, and be consistent over time.

Data can change your world, but as a matter of fact it probably isn’t now. It’s up to you to fix that.

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