This past week I was able to attend a Management Concepts training offered by my Agency focused on presenting data analysis. This was a great three day training that if you ever have the opportunity to take I highly recommend. But as I know training dollars can be thin, I’m going to share some of my favorite take-aways and experiences from the class.
This really has two perspectives. The first, if you’re the person asking someone to perform data analysis be specific about what questions you want the analyst to explore with the data. The second, if you’re the analyst use the specific questions to define your objective. Getting into the data can lead down rabbit holes with distractions of “eat me” and “drink me” and while these tangents may be fun to explore for us data geeks, they can eat valuable time and dilute your findings and implications.
In combing through the data you’re likely going to perform all types of analysis and end up with numerous results. There is a temptation to give someone all of it, to show those statistical muscles. Use the test you perform in your analysis to determine trends and decide what is going to be most influential in supporting the objective defined.
Keep visuals clean and concise
Likely you’re going to want to summarize some of your findings into charts and graphs. Excel has really improved over the years in allowing you to quickly and beautifully create these objects quickly. It is important to be conscious of your color choices. Red/Green color blindness is fairly common and so you may want to steer clear of those colors. Blues, Greys and Blacks can be good choices and using shade variation amongst them can give lots of options. Excel allows lots of customizations, but a good rule of thumb is to keep your charts and graphs in 2-D unless your displaying data in the 3rd dimension. Keeping it 2-D makes it easier for the reader to be sure of the value.
I don’t want to give away everything I learned over the week, but I would be curious to hear what tips and tricks you have for presenting analysis.
Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.
Sabrina Delay is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.