Taking the Bore Out of Data

09Feb09

I’ve mentioned TED.com before, but every time I come across an extraordinary video, I feel compelled to post it. So, here goes…

Every week at the office, my team gets together to watch one TEDtalk and then discuss the content. Last week we watched Hans Rosling talk about the third world. Based on that poor description, it should have been a snooze fest. But rather, his presentation of the information was so engaging, so fascinating and so applicable to my job, I was nearly jumping out of my seat.

He brings life to the data like no one else I’ve ever seen. Although I loved every minute of the talk, there were two major ‘lessons’ I took away: segmentation is important, and there is a ‘right’ way to tell a story with numbers.

Ok, so in all honesty I knew the first one. I probably wouldn’t be here if I didn’t. But Rosling’s talk could be a great tool to convince someone else, a non-believer, that segmentation is imperative to smart marketing. What I love about this example is that it’s completely out of the context of advertising or marketing. The lessons still ring true, it’s not just totally in your face.

But the second – there’s a ‘right’ way to tell a story with numbers – is something I’m still trying to wrap my head around. When I see it done, it’s obvious. But when I try to do it myself, it’s a little overwhelming and never as good as I want it to be. In this business, numbers can either be the selling point – or the napping point in a meeting. And I don’t think anyone wants to present the latter.

So, be a better storyteller – and think just a little bit harder the next time you define your target audience. And enjoy the talk!

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