How to Tell a Meaningful Story with Physician Data
Have you ever sat through a long-winded slide presentation full of graphs, pie charts and other widgets, only to forget everything at the conclusion? Sure, you have—we’ve all been there. Communicating data to an audience and having them retain that information can be a difficult task—especially when it comes to physician data.
Telling a meaningful story with physician data requires much more than pretty graphs and 3-D pie charts. It requires your audience to emotionally connect to the “who,” the “how,” the “why,” and the “so what?” hidden within the data itself. Well-presented data should be memorable and impactful, and it should facilitate change if needed.
Data, in its most complex and imaginative form is useless—and in most cases, quickly forgotten—without a relatable story. What is the story behind the data? We should present physician data analysis like a detective would analyze a crime scene, trying to understand what happened in the data, what evidence needs to be collected, and what change or additional steps are now required.
Eliminate the Noise
“Data noise,” or the presentation of excessive data to your audience, is an effective way to make them become completely uninterested or confused on what you have to offer. The human mind is only capable of storing between 4 and 5 main points at any given time. Data noise separates your audience from any emotional or logical connection to the data you are presenting. Be clear and concise on the points you are making, present a simple but effective message, and create an emotional connection to the user as to why the data is valuable or important. Hospital and health system leaders and executives are often surrounded my numbers, charts and excessive information. Eliminating the data noise in your pitch allows the actionable information and insights to take the spotlight.
Memorable & Impactful Physician Data
Any good story is constructed around memorable characters that must overcome obstacles with a favorable outcome in the end. The presentation of physician data can (and should!) follow the same guidelines. Build a story of relatable characters (for example, physician liaisons) for your audience that have similar obstacles. Remember to make the outcome clear, concise and demonstrate how it ultimately benefits your audience (and the bottom line).
Be authentic with your audience. Drive home the fact that everyone is a team, and that everyone can benefit from the message you are delivering. Try to identify the audience’s pains and how you, through physician data, can help alleviate those pains. Authenticity is rooted in facts; present facts that prove your points and illustrate ways to overcome pitfalls or obstacles. Metaphors or anecdotes can also help your message connect even better and make your message more impactful.
Find questions in the data and have your audience participate in the discovery of answers and solutions. This gets everyone involved in the conversation and helps effectively push forward appropriate action—and makes your presentation both memorable and impactful.
Finally, make visualizations easy to understand. Sometimes the simplest elements make the most sense. For example, large and complicated tables with excessive text can make it difficult for your audience to follow your “data story” and comprehend what you are trying to present. A simple bar graph with different sizes and colors can, in many cases, more effectively present your message to your audience.
Is physician data needed to make good decisions and favorable outcomes? Absolutely. But if it is not presented in a simple, emotional, and meaningful way, your message may be completely lost on your audience. Take the time to build out a compelling story that makes a personal or emotional connection. Remember that most statistics will be forgotten, but the story you present to your audience will resonate with them and will, in many cases, compel them to take action.