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Data Storytelling and Visualization with Lea Pica from Present Beyond Measure

Richie and Lea cover the full picture of data presentation, how to understand your audience, leverage hollywood storytelling and much more.
Jan 2024

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Lea Pica

Lea Pica is a seasoned digital analytics practitioner, social media marketer and blogger with over 13 years of experience building search marketing and digital analytics practices for companies like Scholastic, Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works, and Prudential. Today, she trains and speaks to thousands of data analysts + marketers to empower them with vital tools to present information and insights to inform decisions, spark ideas, inspire action and become indispensable

Photo of Richie Cotton
Richie Cotton

Richie helps individuals and organizations get better at using data and AI. He's been a data scientist since before it was called data science, and has written two books and created many DataCamp courses on the subject. He is a host of the DataFramed podcast, and runs DataCamp's webinar program.

Key Quotes

The key to effective data stories is finding some kind of conflict, and generally the conflict is whatever's standing in the way of the stakeholder reaching the success they want to reach. Examine some of the stories that are captivating you right now, the stories that you really remember, the ones that really stick with you, the ones that keep you coming back for more. Why? Because there are compelling conflicts and high stakes in it. So how can you help your audience understand what is at stake for them if they do nothing?

The Through Line is a tool concept that I learned from a book called Ted written by Chris Anderson, who owns Ted. He talks about this in his book where every single Ted and Ted talk that you see had to have one thing to even get accepted. And it cannot go on stage without this thing. And it's called the through line. And the through line is your presentation summarized in a single sentence. And when I say that to people in business and data, they're like, What don't you mean ten sentences? And I'm like, No, there's the problem right there. If you need ten sentences to summarize, your presentation is too much and they're not going to take action on that many points anyway.

So what the through line does is after you've done your analysis and you've understood, what are the decisions being made here, what are the key points I want to include? What's the overall headline or takeaway? The through line helps you summarize the presentation and it becomes your North Star for the presentation. So a through line could be our search engine optimization optimizations plan. We put in last month didn't result in the full 30% increase in traffic and whatever sales, whatever you were measuring that we planned for last quarter, we learned several reasons. We learned three reasons why this happened. And we have a plan and recommendations for how to get back on track. So what that throughline does is it gives you clarity on the exact topic, which is the search engine optimization plan. It's previews, it piques your curiosity with what actually happened as to what the conflict is. So the conflict is that the plan did not perform to expectations, but that you already have a solution on the way to help win the day. And it piques their curiosity, keeps them engaged, but it also becomes this sort of rope that you constantly are asking, Does this piece of data hook on or not? Yes. Does this piece of Nope, nope, this doesn't actually support my throughline. I'm going to put it in the appendix. So that's one of my tools for really creating focus.

Key Takeaways


Tailor Data Presentations to Your Audience: Adapt your data story to the level of understanding and decision-making power of your audience, ensuring it resonates with their specific needs and interests.


Manage Cognitive Load: Be mindful of your audience's cognitive capacity by simplifying slides and focusing on a few key data points, avoiding overwhelming them with too much information.


Create a Clear Throughline: Develop a central theme or story for your presentation that ties together all the data points and insights, providing a coherent narrative that guides your audience through the presentation.

Links From The Show


Lea Pica: Hello and welcome listeners to a special edition. It's a double header of two podcast interviews, two in one. Today I have with me Richie Cotton who's a data evangelist at DataCamp and we're going to be interviewing each other for our respective podcasts, which is really neat. So I'd like to introduce Richie.

He helps people and organizations get better at using data and AI, which it's the worst kept secret in the industry that this is the most important technological development that we're all kind of figuring out right now. And he's also a co host of the popular Data Framed podcast, and he regularly hosts webinars on data and AI skills.

He's written two books on R programming and created 10 data camp courses that have been used by 700, 000 people. So, Today

Richie Cotton: So I'd like to do the same for you. So, Leah Pica is a data analyst turns data storytelling advocate. She's something of a legend in the data storytelling space. international keynote speaker. She runs workshops all the time, and she is the host of the present beyond measure podcast and has a book to go along with that called present beyond measure design, visualize and deliver data stories that inspire action, which is hopefully what we're going to cover today.

Lea Pica: we kind of wanted to take a bit of a free form approach where we're just two podcast hosts interviewing each other. So I know, Richie, you were interested in learning more about The book you just mentioned, shameless plug, shameless plug, just hap... See more

pen to have it sitting right there. It's so wild. So I'd love to hear any questions you have for that.

And then we're also going to talk a lot about, I think, AI and the kinds of skills and literacy that data practitioners are really going to need to stay on the cutting edge and stay competitive in this wild west market that we're finding ourselves in.

Richie Cotton: I have to say I read the Present Beyond Measure book. I consider myself to be, like, a pretty reasonable data storyteller. I still feel like I learned a lot from it. It's such a good, approachable book. So, Yes uh, wonderful stuff. I have many questions for you about it, though, so I'm glad to be able to pick your brains.

The first thing is you have this idea of a stakeholder savvy quadrant. So this is about how you tweak your story depending on how savvy your audience is. Can you tell me a bit more about that and how it works?

Lea Pica: that seems to be something. It's a smaller section, but it seems to be like something people are really picking out of the book. So the idea is that it came from another podcast episode that I had. And the person came on, had vast experience with consulting and data. For a lot of different kinds of organizations and he started to see his name's Kevin Strom, and he started to see kind of a pattern emerging of personality types and the kinds of responses and reactions, different kinds of groups would get.

in business meetings when you would present data. So what he found was that it's important to think about different approaches you're going to have in addressing each of these personalities and that you're ultimately not going to be able to cater to every group. in the room, even though you might have different constituent groups in your meetings.

this quadrant really helped prioritize who you're taking the clearest shot at with your insights, which would namely be your decision makers. So more, it tends to be more of the business side executives, VPC levels who are ultimately calling the shots and they are the ones that you are selling your insights to.

You can essentially treat. Your data presentations like a sales pitch because if you're making recommendations or strategies that you want them to do, you've got to sell them on it because they're really busy, they're overwhelmed, and they have a lot of people vying for their resources, their team's time, their budget.

So you really got to make a strong case for why you are the one they should prioritize and, you know, move forward with the strategy. And then it goes on to talk about three other types like the systems enablers who you want to get as allies, but they're not going to want. very complex numbers. They don't want to know the p value of anything.

Then you have more of the data and technical side. And with those groups, you have to be really buttoned up with your analyses. You really got to put yourself under the microscope and be prepared for whole poking and rebuttals and challenges and know how to navigate that well. Keep the peace and ultimately try to help the collective make a decision that's in service to the organization.

Richie Cotton: This is brilliant. It's something I wish I'd known about earlier in my career. So I started off doing Data science in the research laboratory, and they had an academic vibe, just like you talked about people going to try and poke holes in every bit of analysis you do. And then I had a career switch and started working in debt collection.

I was speaking to business leaders, and they were like, why are you spending 10 minutes talking about your data cleaning methodology? Just tell me how much money I'm going to make. just that difference in audience just mean you have to completely change your story. I don't know whether you have any examples of like when you've spoken to the wrong audience or anything like that.

Lea Pica: Oh my gosh, that was the whole first, I wasn't speaking to the wrong audience. I was speaking to them wrong. So, You know, I was so excited as an analyst and I couldn't, had to share with everyone that I found mistakes in the formulas of the budgeting calculation sheet and wanted to show them look at how hard this analysis was and look at all the steps that I took and look at.

And the thing is, it's, I realize they don't care. They don't care. Say that for your boss when it comes time to be evaluated for your annual review, you know, performance bonus. But really, they care about what the end result means for them and their organizations. And I think sometimes we get into an over sharing and over explaining mode when we don't really understand how does any of this connect to what really matters to them.

And one of the things that I love to teach in the book and my workshops is, your stakeholders are holding stakes. So what are the stakes that they are actually holding? Don't just call them that. Get clear. Are they holding financial wellness stakes? Are they holding brand health and brand recognition or customer health relationship health stakes?

Get really clear on what the stakes are that they are holding and you're going to be able to start to understand how to speak to them and not overwhelm them with your t test parameters and how large how many databases you connected and a lot of the weeds that we tend to get stuck in.

Richie Cotton: Absolutely. That's brilliant advice. You just like, really like maybe speak to your audience and find out what they care about before you start telling them things. Um,

Lea Pica: Idea. Yeah,

Richie Cotton: of the things I liked about the book is you talked about the sort of the Hollywood aspects of storytelling. And so like in a movie, you've got things like a villain, you've got a dramatic climax. have Still not entirely sure how you make that work in a data presentation. Like, It's very hard to have a Bond villain somewhere in there. Can you talk me through how you go about doing that?

Lea Pica: This is a great question because I think that story mechanics, and what you're referencing in particular, is what's called the narrative arc. And it's sort of this invisible structure that moves throughout. a data story or a story, and it organizes the information in a way that takes the audience on a journey, on an emotional journey of transformation.

So a lot of people get stuck because most of the ways that we present data in meetings is we take a chart, we put it on a slide, we take a chart, we put it on the slide. Oh, here's a table, put it on the next slide. Oh, here's some bullet points, we'll put on the next one. And we don't actually think of sort of the narrative.

We don't think of it as a storyboard. We just think of it as a whole pile of discreet, disconnected slides that don't have any kind of cohesive through line, which is another tool that I teach in the book. So one of the favorite ways I've learned to couch this in terms of marketing, especially marketing data, is a framework called StoryBrand.

So Donald Miller. created a framework called StoryBrand for marketers. And what it does is it really, it leverages those mechanics, but you have to have a villain. And it's hard to imagine there's a villain in your data, because you're like, I'm looking at like yoga pants data. What's the, What's the villain here?

But it's about what happened. And the key to effective data stories is that finding some kind of conflict. And generally, the conflict is what's ever standing in the way of the stakeholder reaching the success they want to reach. So Yoga pants sales are really down this year. We had outage on the website.

Something really went wrong with our product database. Something happened that created a conflict that stood in the way of success. Or there's a new really hot yoga pants TikTok trend happening, but we're already behind the curve. Four of our competitors already pulled out ahead. This is an opportunity for us.

But the conflict is that if we don't take action, we're going to fall behind the curve. So what Donald Miller says is make the villain dastardly. Really amplify what your organization stands to lose. If you do nothing, that's the key to making stakes really important. And as you take people through that, you maybe are starting with data that they're familiar with and they know the KPIs and you're like, yeah, everything's normal.

Oh, but wait, is it going well though? Not over here. And you're adding a little bit of drama. Like we have to not be afraid to. not over dramatize, but dramatize and make concrete the loss we might experience because we don't do anything. Or else these meetings have no purpose to them.

To just inform and be like, yeah, everything is the same. Well, that's not a story. No one would read that story, you know? So people need to know, and like, this is where I suggest in the book, really Examine some of the stories that are captivating you right now. The stories that you really remember, the ones that really stick with you, the ones that keep you coming back for more.

Why? Because there are compelling conflicts and high stakes in it. So how can you help your audience understand what is at stake for them if they do nothing? And I, their whole process will change.

Richie Cotton: I do love this idea of just like turning your business problems into the bad guy and saying, okay, this is a villain. And somehow that means Every meeting it's now the idea of the hero's journey is like one of your common Hollywood stories is like you are going to overcome obstacles and succeed.

So yeah, that's pretty cool. You are now the hero in every meeting.

Lea Pica: So give me an example of some data that you've been working with recently, either of a client or like just an example that might stick out from your databank.

Richie Cotton: Okay. Because I work in data comes media team, so we publish a lot of content. We look at so for example, how many people listen to data framed or how many people attend webinars? And then particularly the webinars, how that converts into leads for sales.

Lea Pica: Right. Okay. So webinar is actually a really interesting set of data to look at. You have data points like join rates subscriber to join rate, you know, and you can understand what happened there. You have the stickiness rate. So for one webinar analysis I did, I looked at the total attendee timestamp and saw the number of attendees who were.

present at different points. So you saw like a curve go up and then I got to see exactly where viewership plummeted and everyone checked out. So for this particular webinar, I was lucky. They stayed all the way to the end and then kind of petered out during the Q& A. But with other kinds of webinars, you can look at major points of attrition or abandonment and understand, if that wasn't by the time you got to your sales pitch, let's say you're selling something, there's a villain for you to take a look at.

and you have to make it dastardly. Oh. What was it about this one particular part of the webinar that really disengaged people and, you know, based on this rate and that rate and the sign up rate, we might have lost this many new course learners or whatever it is that you're trying to sell.

So that, that's the kind of story that you can tell instead of just going, Yeah, we had 500 people join, and 300 people stayed, and 12 signed up. Like, No one would tell a story that way like, you know what I mean? No one would go to movies, and Hollywood would go bankrupt if they told stories that way. So I do believe there's a way to bring in a little drama, make the person or the object a hero, and understand where were their challenges, what stood in their way, and how were they transformed by the end.

Richie Cotton: Yes. And quite often in this sort of situation, the hero you want to make it like the marketing people or whoever's in charge of the email campaigns, you like, Hey, when you posted it's like a link to the webinar in this email campaign or in this marketing campaign, suddenly readership went up or the audience size increased.

You're a hero. Do this again, please.

Lea Pica: Exactly, you are making them the hero and you're also the story you're often telling is the customer is the hero that is the journey they want to help and protect. So you are sort of making the customers experience the hero. And they, the audience becomes the guide that helps them throughout the journey, but that entire process makes you the guide and your stakeholder audience the hero.

So it's like one of those never ending mirror, mirror boxes,

Richie Cotton: Yes. There's always like some way to improve things. So you always want to treat whoever you're working with as heroes. I like that. Okay. I'd also like to talk about something you went into a bit of depth in your book, which is planning content. And certainly I found content that I've actually planned rather than just making it up and going along tends to work better.

So can you talk through what your planning process is for when you're trying to tell a data story?

Lea Pica: Yeah, so this is so important because usually the first step we take is opening up a PowerPoint and starting to drop in chart and chart and slide and slide. And you don't realize that actually really effective presentations require some planning up front. So it can be a bit of an involved process depending on the scope of the presentation.

You know, a weekly readout is going to have a different scope than like a QBR, quarterly business review. leT's say, you know, it's a monthly readout. It's somewhere in between. it's really great to have a template of sort of the way that you capture the certain key decisions that are going, aiming to be made.

Hopefully there are some. That's the ideal situation. So you're taking note of the kinds of decisions to be made. Maybe you're interviewing your stakeholders to understand the kinds of challenges. that they, the hero, are facing or the kinds of challenges the customer is facing based on your usability data or your customer feedback, you know, voice of customer, things like that.

And you're starting to gather information and start to find the stories, you know, you're exploring the data and you're starting to find interesting things that happened or challenges or conflicts standing in the way of the success they wanted to achieve, but they didn't for some reason. So you're starting to collect that and plot all that out, but what you really want to do is find a sort of central theme for your, for the story of the presentation.

Hey, our plan was a success or, oh, our plan didn't perform to our expectations, but now we have a new plan kind of thing. So You're organizing all of this information and I actually adapted a framework I found called the presenting by boxes framework by Olivia Mitchell and I chose that framework because it was designed to help startups pitch investors for angel investing for raising capital so it has a naturally persuasive framework to it, and it uses emotions and stories.

But what I also love about it is very simple, and it really organizes everything into sort of invisible structure that you don't actually see in the presentation slides, but they become the sort of, if to use car terminology, a sort of chassis, which is like the metal frame for the car, and it holds all of the Car organs together and it keeps it organized and it really allows you to move through things in a really efficient, focused way.

You don't get bogged down in a ton of detail. You don't overwhelm your audience with too much information, which is the number one complaint I get from the clients who engage me for workshops. And by the end, they have this really neatly packaged strategic plan. that they can choose to move forward with.

So that framework changes the whole way my students approach presenting data and they find that it actually say it feels like it takes a while to learn the beginning but it actually ends up saving them time because they know exactly how to go about the process.

Richie Cotton: That feels really useful. And I think that's a principle of good design when it feels sort of seamless and everything is just in the right place at the end, you can get on with just planning. Yeah. Communicating your message. Actually, so you mentioned people being overloaded with information and this is something like some work in EdTech and we worry about so a lot.

There's this thing called the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve where like people get told stuff and then they sort of forget stuff exponentially until like a week later. They basically remember nothing. So yeah. So you gotta keep practicing things in order to retain things in your memory, but with the presentation, you only get that one shot.

how many key points do you think you can get people to remember during a presentation? What's your goal there?

Lea Pica: Yeah, this is fantastic and this is why I'm a little wary of QBRs in general because there's so much to pack in after three months of what happens. But it's important to understand that the human brain really only has space in the stage of our memory, which is called the working memory, which is sort of a temporary holding tank that everything we see coming in gets held in, and our brain subconsciously tries to either sort it into, it's like a Marie Kondo, it sorts it into a bucket for more long term storage or it discards it.

In doing that, there's generally only three to six or seven chunks, like main chunks of information. And if they're all around idea, we can actually remember different sub. points to that idea. Like we, as long as they're associated, but when it comes to big, discreet ideas, we generally can only hold three to five is like kind of the max I would go.

So in the presenting by boxes framework, you are having this sort of overarching theme or story for your whole presentation. I call it like the buzzfeed headline. What is the ultimate thing that you want people to be able to quote this meeting was about? Or what was the bottom line of the analysis.

And you're making a sort of thesis statement around that theme, that story, and then you're using the story section of the framework to really corroborate or substantiate these claims that you've made, kind of like in court of law, right? In that she only has three main areas where you have three general ideas and then you drill down into those into related topics.

I wouldn't go past five and I know that a lot of business meetings were not designed with neuroscience in mind. And we'll have 15 different areas we have to cover. But it's important for organizations to examine the culture of presenting information that just because that's the way it's been done, but then people complain that there was way too much information and they don't know what to do next.

Well, what's the definition of insanity, right? Think of, stop doing it the same way over and over again and think differently about how you're doing it. Yeah.

Richie Cotton: it, probably the most common number of things that people remember from any given meeting is zero, right? You know, It's that bad, right? So if you can get people to remember one thing or two things or three things, then you know, you're winning there.

Lea Pica: right. Because the meeting might not have been any about one specific idea that they could really latch on to another little trick for Presenters to help their audiences remember information out of the out of once they leave is the recap. So a lot of times we present the initial information the first time, but it just flies out of our brain.

So the recap at the end, I think of like laying down floorboards. the first time you're telling it. And then at the end, you're recapping all of the top major points and the strategic recommendations. And that's like the layer of shellac that kind of seals it in to assist with memory after the fact. And it's as important as the first time you say it generally.

Richie Cotton: Okay isn't that like Grounded Ants or something like that?

Lea Pica: Oh, God. I hope not. I think it's a lacquer, a chemical lacquer that seals wood, but

Richie Cotton: Okay.

Lea Pica: they use ants.

Richie Cotton: It's something.

Lea Pica: the Google, to the cloud.

Richie Cotton: aNyway uh, where were we? We were talking about like how you get your audience to remember things so this comes into the idea of cognitive load, I suppose. So if you try and overwhelm. People's brains then, you know, they forget everything. If you don't give them enough information, they get bored and you've got to kind of balance it somehow.

Do you have any techniques for how you get just the right amount of information to your audience at the right time?

Lea Pica: Well, cognitive load is a really key term for visual communicators to understand because When you are presenting to a live audience with multiple stimuli, so you're talking to them, there's verbal stimuli, and then there's visual stimuli. So this is occupying, they're trying to keep their full attention while they're using two different channels to take everything in.

So this is one reason why it's really important that we don't create presentation slides that actually look like dashboards. that's like one of the number one things that I see when I evaluate client samples for my workshops. They are creating dashboards in PowerPoint and then just plopping it on the screen and they're talking through in a monotone voice and now here's this box over here and this is the one over there and then they're like, well, why is no one paying attention to me?

Why is everyone falling asleep? and I know that. I know that presenters know this because we are also audience members. We know that we're having trouble paying attention, but we just don't know that a slide is not meant to be a dashboard. So when we keep slides simple, communicating no more than one major idea, maybe one big chart on it that people can really see.

Maybe bringing in a second chart on a second slide alongside of it to build a story. That's called. a slide build. But cognitive load is really about removing more. It's removing everything you don't need to communicate that idea. And that means cleaning up your graphs of design crap that is really not necessary to communicate the information, like decorative stuff and gradients and all these things.

They add to the load on your brain. But really the number one thing that I see is someone will present a slide during our exercises and I talk about trying to communicate a single observation as the title and make that really clear. So they'll do that and then I cannot find What they're talking about anywhere on the slide, and there's like 500 data points and none of them actually reference the learning they have.

So we're presenting appendices and dashboards instead of simplified, clear, crisp. presentation slides. That's the difference.

Richie Cotton: Yes, the idea of presenting a dashboard in the slide is absolutely horrendous. I think I can go one better there though. So one thing I've seen, and this is very common amongst executives, I'm not going to name any names, but is presenting. Spreadsheets in a slide where it's just like oh, I was taking the spreadsheet dumped in there.

That's pretty horrible actually I've A bad story from someone. This is a senior executive who's been doing this for 20 years. They should know better. I was like, you know what? You're usually like spreadsheets in your presentations too often. It's really hard to understand. You need to put some images in there.

So next week, rather than putting a spreadsheet in there, he took a screenshot of a spreadsheet and put that in his slide.

Lea Pica: bless their heart. They tried. They listened.

Richie Cotton: Yeah.

Lea Pica: Oh

Richie Cotton: please anyone listening, don't do that. Use actual plots, data visualizations if you're going to do some images, not just a screenshot of a spreadsheet.

Lea Pica: And not just screenshotting spreadsheets. I'll call you and I'll raise you on that. Screenshots of tables or charts from data. Collection platforms. So when Google Analytics Became everywhere. I noticed a proliferation of people screenshotting tables from Google Analytics reports and putting those in and then like a wall of numbers, which is not something that we're visually tuned or trained to absorb while we're also trying to listen to a person explain what's going on.

We're busy like trying to take in every single number and you know, they put the red box Around the line that you wanna see. And I'm like no. Take the data out and plot it properly in a bar or, a line or something else that is gonna make that clearer. You know, these are the kinds of shortcuts that can really undercut us.

Get what I'm saying,

Richie Cotton: No, absolutely agreed with you there. It's if you've got a table of numbers, you probably just want to pull one number out or draw some kind of,

Lea Pica: Yeah. They don't all matter. It's generally one set of data that matters in there. So,

Richie Cotton: Absolutely. So this feels like a natural segue into data visualization.

One thing I found recently is we teach a lot, how to do a lot of different data visualizations on DataGam, as you might imagine, because we have all sorts of courses on drawing plots and charts and things.

Having been through lots of different companies like dashboards and things like that, there are only two kinds of plots that are commonly used in business analytics.

I'm just wondering whether you can guess what they are, because there were definitely two clear winners there. And one of them surprised me.

Lea Pica: Do you mean like in business presentations where we're talking to decision makers or no?

Richie Cotton: mostly from doing dashboards and things like that, like what, what are actually used to track your business?

Lea Pica: okay. So to, are they chart types?

Richie Cotton: Chart types.

Lea Pica: All right. Well, I'm going to guess a bar and

Richie Cotton: Bar plot was one of them.

Lea Pica: a pie

Richie Cotton: So it wasn't actually pie plots. I mean, maybe in some, some businesses they do use them quite a lot because charts and bar charts, they're kind of fairly interchangeable. The most common plot type by far is actually a line plot because

Lea Pica: his line. That was going to be my third guess.

Richie Cotton: yeah, Yeah. The most common thing you do is just check, does this number go up or down over time?

And there's so many line plots everywhere. So you think. Data visualization is kind of a tricky skill, lots of different plots to learn. Actually, you can get an awful long way with just line plots and bar plots.

Lea Pica: Well, Okay. Yes, and the reason why I brought Pi is because according to the Duarte group, which analyzed thousands of client presentation slides, and they actually, they were looking for all the fancy different new chart types that, you know, oh, they must, what are people using nowadays? And really they found the majority were bar, Pi, and line in that order.

But the context of the environment that someone is consuming information. is everything in this case, because in a presentation, you are essentially a narrator taking your audience through a journey, step by step, right? If you're just there to rattle off a bunch of numbers, then a report or a dashboard might make more sense.

But in a dashboard, dashboards are really meant to help keep the pulse of things, which is why line graphs are great for performance metrics because they act as a sort of EKG. You know, heartbeat of the business and they're essential for trending, you know, that the most essential chart for trending.

So that's going to make a lot of sense in a dashboard. But in a business presentation, you know, you might have a lot of aggregate information that gets summed up in bars, but then you dive deeper into some of the bars and plot them out and see where the story goes, you know, from a time basis. The environment is everything.

Richie Cotton: Absolutely. I'm the, yeah, you're right. There's a huge difference between I've got 10 minutes to go and do a deep dive point, you know, clicking on a dashboard and seeing what's going on and I'm staring at a slide that someone's shown for 20 seconds.

Lea Pica: 20 seconds, try two minutes sometimes people let that sit there and they don't realize that when you spend a long time on a slide, if I could add this every time our vision catches wind of something, our attention starts a clock down to when we lose focus. And I think a lot of the social media apps have kind of exacerbated and capitalized on this where it's such rapid fire motion and changing that now if a person puts up a dashboard slide and doesn't use animations to sort of pace people through and reveal things intentionally, step at a time, that attention span runs out far after that slide has changed.

And so just the action of changing the slide can snap people's attention back, wake people up because that's how we're biologically wired to survive. So it's like leveraging little things like that, but yeah, I don't know your thoughts on that.

Richie Cotton: That's actually great. Yeah, I like that idea of having something visually interesting happening just to get people's attentions again. Do you have any other tips for that? Like particularly how to get people's attention as a speaker. Like maybe you're like, stop looking at my slides.

Listen to me talk. Do you have any tips for that?

Lea Pica: Yeah, sure. So there's actually little shortcuts you can use. I think you can do B and W, so. if you're close to your computer, and I think some clickers actually have this too now, but if you're close to your computer, someone look this up and it's okay if I've gotten this wrong, but if you press B, I believe that it will turn your slide black.

And that's a great way to get people to focus back to you if you've gone through the slide and you just don't need them to. be looking at that and sort of staring into the vortex. It brings them back to you. I think W turns the screen white. The other thing is that if you know you're going to get through a slide, but you'd actually like to riff a little bit or go into something else and not have them look at the PowerPoint, you can also just put a black or blank slide in your PowerPoint after that slide and just go to the next one.

And that's like a little bit of a pause or waiting room area you can have.

Richie Cotton: That's a great tip because I think I don't know whether it's just me being attention seeking, but sometimes I'm like, yeah, stop looking at the slides. You need to

Lea Pica: Look at me!

Richie Cotton: I'm doing.

Lea Pica: Well, that or a tap dance. A tap dance will definitely bring their attention back to you.

Richie Cotton: Maybe a new year's resolution and

Lea Pica: that's right.

Richie Cotton: aLl right. Excellent. We talked a bit about data visualizations. And I know in your book, you talk a bit about how images can increase engagement. Are there any ways you can think of to include other image types like beyond just plots and charts? Can you include photography or other kind of images?

Like, where would those fit into a data presentation?

Lea Pica: Absolutely. I think that we actually don't use enough real imagery. Like real life and imagery in our presentations. So there's a whole section of my book that talks about the way that real visual imagery can really stimulate the audience's brain and actually help you create empathy, a compassionate connection between your audience and the customer that you are advocating for.

So rather than just showing charts that show your customers as a big blob of numbers, you might start with the numbers And then actually create an avatar around like a piece of customer feedback you received and have an image of a real person who looks frustrated on their computer and, can elicit a more emotional connection or, using images of people that look like the kinds of people you're trying to help, you know, if you're a nonprofit or something, you can choose images of the kinds of people that the nonprofit is trying to help.

And then there's things like iconography is a great way to replace lists of bullet points or boring agendas in business presentations. They just provide a really simple and clean way, especially if they're set off of like a darker circle and they're like a nice, sharp white. They can really help reinforce the visual absorption of the verbal or, text information that You're trying to communicate.

And then the last one is screenshots of things. If you're in marketing, especially, or, you know, market research, don't just talk about the ads or the website or the issues you're having. Actually show them screenshots and then seat them in pictures of, you know, laptops or desktops or iPhones or, you know, mobile phones and show them what's actually happening, but put it in a visual context that they'll understand.

So there's so many ways that we can leverage information. And I think it's really underused because we are trying, what they generally say is that, We think we are data driven in our decision making, but we're not. We are emotionally driven, and we use data to substantiate our decision. So we're data informed, but emotionally driven most of the time.

So in that way, emotion imagery can really help with how you elicit emotion.

Richie Cotton: I do like the idea of using images to elicit emotion. You mentioned the idea that having people in there helps the audience connect with you know, these, whoever you're showing on screen. And I would say the Datacamp sales deck, and in fact, pretty much every sales deck I've seen at every business is full of Beautiful people, cellular laptops, stock photos, they're always wearing glasses to show they're smart and all that sort of thing.

But I'm wondering whether that's just a bit played out. And of course, there's all these like fancy generative AI tools. You got Darlene 3,

Lea Pica: boy.

Richie Cotton: Mid Journey, and they can create whatever image you want. So I'm wondering whether you've made use of these at all and how you think you can use them to improve presentations.

Lea Pica: I think this is so great, and this is a great segue into also a topic we want to tackle, which is AI and presentation, which, I'm trying to evolve as a dinosaur and OG of learning. how to create presentations well before these tools were around. And I can be a bit of a purist where I try to teach the basic design skills everyone's going to need to know no matter what tool they have access to so they understand what's happening.

And I have a really funny story about using AI for presentations that I'd love to tell you in a second. So the first thing is how do we not make our sales deck or similar look like a totally fake thing where these people are having meetings in offices that are ludicrous. most people do not work in these like flooded light offices that are gorgeous and some do but that's not that doesn't look really real or like really contrived white background angry customer like, you know what I'm saying?

So what I love is that sites like Unsplash is one of my favorite sites to go to for stock photography because It's very real looking, there's really beautiful stuff out there and they're always putting up more business friendly photos and series of photos, which series of photos can be really useful because you can actually have the same group of people.

I did this with the My Conscious Critique webinar. I use the same group of people throughout the presentation to sort of create characters and tell a story of what they were doing and show their emotional reactions to things and everything. So that can be really useful, but I find that Unsplash looks a bit more genuine and real.

It's a little more limited than like a deposit photo or Adobe, but You're really just looking for something that doesn't look really contrived. Look for more realistic looking environments where people are having genuine conversations or get someone to grab the latest iPhone or a DSLR, a good camera, and take some pictures.

Go around your office and take some real pictures and situations and make it look a little bit more homegrown. Then you're going to have a more authentic looking deck.

Richie Cotton: Absolutely. You got someone just mainlining coffee and crying into a screen with Python code.

Lea Pica: Yeah, exactly. Just like the printer guy like crying in a corner. I'd love to answer the thing about the AI generated stuff though. I have a really funny recent story about that. May I share?

Richie Cotton: Of course.

Lea Pica: Okay. So I'm looking to plan content next year about AI and presentation because it's the moment is here and it's a big question.

I know there are a few AI based presentation makers I'm friends with the folks over at beautiful. ai, giving a shout out. That's one where they have really nice templates and they're a little bit more intuitive. So they incorporate a lot of best practices there if you want something shorter and faster.

But I've been trying to use, GPT 4, I've been trying to use it more for some visual stuff and I'm like, okay. I'm an startup owner and I'm trying to pitch and tell a data story to potential investors about our sales increasing. So I'm trying to get the hang of it and I prompt it with show me a really beautifully designed, simple, easy to understand slide that shows an increase in business sales and metrics.

What came back, I was like, okay, people like me aren't going anywhere. We have total job security because I would never in a million years present a slide like it. It was just packed to the brim. end to edge with crazy three dimensional column charts, crazy arrows surrounded by a border of pies and donuts and like the colors were insane.

I was like Oh, okay. All right. Maybe I have to train the system on what I'm looking for. So I go, okay, take a lot out. I'm just looking for the chart with the increasing sales and there's a 50 percent increase in the final year. Like I'm trying to sort of give it what to do. Minimal, totally simplify this, clear all of the stuff out based on the principles of Gestalt, which I talk about in the book, and the neuroscience of simple visual communication.

It came back and it was worse. It was more packed with stuff. And it had misspellings on it. Nothing made sense. I did not understand. And I'm sure maybe if I thought, well, maybe I should feed it a data set. So I haven't tried that yet, but I might try, but I was like, okay, strip everything out. Just put a simple.

Increasing column chart with sales with a nice observational title and that's it. And the third one was, but it just kept getting worse. So I want to caution people about how you are going to use this tool for presentations. I know of a way that I think it could be really useful and I can explain that too, but when it comes to actually designing chart slides.

I don't think it's ready or I haven't trained it yet.

Richie Cotton: Yeah. So this is a really interesting experience. I think it's very common is. This technology been so hyped up and you think, okay, this is going to solve all my problems and sometimes it does. It works really well, but often yet you type something in that sounds perfectly sensible to you and then nothing, the results are rubbish and it's very easy to get discouraged them.

And this is why there's this kind of a new skill set called prompt engineer, which is about like, how do you coax the AI to do exactly what you need? And I think it's gonna be like, It's one of the most important skills you need to know of the coming years. And the problem is that because the air is developing pretty quickly, the actual skill front engineering is also changing pretty quickly.

Lea Pica: Hmm. Yeah.

Richie Cotton: Some of the stuff that's worked for me as well. First of all, you talked about having authentic images, but actually with some of these AI generated images, you're better off going for something like a surrealist style or maybe some kind of abstract style because then, yeah, then it's okay for things to be a bit weird.

It's like you've done this on purpose and then it doesn't matter so much.

Lea Pica: Right. I was uh, doom scrolling a little bit this morning. Sorry. It happens. And I came across An account that I follow that tries to call out like, you know, conspiracy theories and weird things and they show this AI generated image of a spiritual influencer, which is an interesting concept and It was hyper real, like for a second maybe could have looked real, but then you looked at her hand and her hand looked like a gargantuan claw attached to her arm and it made no sense.

I don't exactly know what happened in that prompt, but it's just really important to know, you know, and it's also You're making me make a connection between also when people manipulate views of data in order to try to communicate something that the view, the data is not really saying, like truncating an axis of a bar chart to try to make the difference between the bars look way bigger than they are.

This is something that certain news outlets do frequently to try to influence, but It's problematic when you do that with bars, first of all, but you can do that with lines in certain situations, but you have to disclose the manipulation, So it's sometimes better if it's overt rather than you're trying to slide something under someone's radar and they fall into that uncanny valley.


Richie Cotton: Absolutely. And that weird hand thing is definitely a problem with

Lea Pica: it?

Richie Cotton: AI images. Yeah, because, so that's one of the things about, if you understand how these things are generated, they're just looking at well, these. Pixels with these colors normally appear next to each other, but then something like facts like about the world, like the fact that humans have five fingers and their hands have the same skin color as the rest of their body.

Usually, these are things that the AI doesn't know, so that's why you get these weird things and the technology is getting a bit better, but it's a fundamental problem with how these models work.

Lea Pica: Yeah, and I think what we're gonna have to really do is Pay close attention to the details, all about leveraging technology to be appropriately lazy so we can get more done. I mean, that's what technology actually helps humans do. We are an inherently lazy species, and technology is our way of making life easier and doing less work.

That's literally, that is what we are wired to do. And I'm all about that. one angle I took is for working on a sales deck for a client. I took sort of a sheet of their information and I imported it. And you know, everything obviously obscured, but I asked them to organize the information in the story brand framework as a presentation.

And it actually did a really nice job of like a slide by slide breakdown of this kind of information here, then put this here. So I think for outlining and idea generation, I think it could really help people get efficient.

Richie Cotton: So that idea of just, well, creating ideas is one of the real strengths of AI and I have to say it's something I do a lot when I'm trying to come up with questions for people for the podcast and webinars. Yeah, just like this. It's like, okay um, told you I'm interviewing this person.

This is the audience.

Lea Pica: Oh,

Richie Cotton: me a list of questions? And actually, I have to say most of them I look at them and go, well, that wasn't quite what I wanted to ask, but even the wrong answer gives me then some inspiration to say, well, actually, this is what I really want to talk about. And then it makes it easier for me to write my own questions.

Lea Pica: Yeah, I know what you mean. I wouldn't. One thing I'm really loving AI for right now is creating and defining customer avatars. I learned this great technique and I'm forgetting the site that I learned it from. I'll make sure to put it on the show notes of the page of this episode. But I learned a technique where you are conversing with an AI prompt and teaching it to build an avatar.

And then you are using that avatar to estimate how appealing a blog post about this topic might be. What's a title they would really like? How is this post measure up to this competitor post? Which page might they find more compelling? They do, I loved it doing SWOT analysis for two different landing pages.

That like blew my mind. So many great ideas there, because. Sometimes it is able to tap into information your brain doesn't have about your audience and I don't know, what are your thoughts on that?

Richie Cotton: Yeah. I like the idea that it's helping you out in cases where you're not very good at something. So for example I love writing about data. I can write about data all day, but I also have to write quite a lot of marketing copy as part of my job, and this is not a natural skill set for me. So anytime I can outsource that to AI well, it improves the quality of my writing because I'm getting some help there, but also it makes me happier because I'm, not doing things that I find hard.

Lea Pica: Well, there's that too. Yeah, and it has to get done, but I think it's great to just recognize like it can boost us as part of the way there where, you know, for certain blog posts, I know the parts of blog posts that I want to write. myself, but sometimes if there's like a part where I want to introduce a concept and there's some historical stuff to bring in, it's great for sort of summarizing into the kind of word count that you're looking for and you can shore that up and then really, you know, customize it that way.

But so I have a ethical question for you, you know, one question I had when I came out is should we be allowed to be writing, to be using AI to generate blog posts and social media posts, you know, if it's not authentic. But then I think to myself, well, there's also ghostwriters who write entire books under another person's name.

So Does it always need to be disclosed, or is it really just the future of content? It will really be both human and machine. It's

Richie Cotton: Yeah, I mean, ideally you're going to disclose it, but I have to say most of the time, probably not.

Lea Pica: Yeah.

Richie Cotton: And often it is going to be a mix of the two. Because quite often it's well, AI has helped me with my first draft, but then I've gone through and I've cleaned it up and rewritten stuff in my own words.

So I think most of the time, as long as you've done the final draft as a human, you're probably okay. And I think we're reaching the point where it's just going to be accepted. Basically, everything is written with some kind of a high assistance.

Lea Pica: Yeah. I think it helps people become better editors because if you're writing it, it's also very hard to edit it effectively because you're so close to it, but you can give it, you need to give it a very discerning eye. If you're editing and definitely for sure if you're presenting, you don't want to just copy and paste blobs of text that it's going to put out and put them in a text box on a slide and then not review it.

You know, you really have to take ownership for the accuracy of everything.

Richie Cotton: Absolutely. The key to this is that


Richie Cotton: these are called a I assistance, not a I experts like the idea is

Lea Pica: yeah.

Richie Cotton: supposed to be in charge. They're your assistant. So you mentioned editing there. This is actually something I'd really love to ask you about. So my number one most common mistake with presentations is I get over enthusiastic.

They run too long, and then I'm like, I need to edit this down before I present it. So do you have any tips for how you go about slashing the amount of content that you've created?

Lea Pica: Yeah. This is such a good question, Richie. So I'll talk back to. A concept I mentioned earlier from my book called The Throughline. This is a tool, concept, if you will, that I learned from a book called Ted Talks. So Chris Anderson, who owns Ted, a smart guy he talks about this in his book where every single Ted and TEDx talk that you see had to have one thing to even get accepted, and it cannot go on stage without this thing, and it's called the through line, and the through line is Your presentation summarized in a single sentence.

And when I say that to people in business and data, they're like, what? Don't you mean 10 sentences? And I'm like, no, there's the problem right there. If you need 10 sentences to summarize your presentation, there's too much. And they're not going to take action on that many points anyway, you know, like generally people are going to be able to remember three to five things they can take action on.

So what the through line does is after you've done your analysis and you've understood what are the decisions being made here, what are the key points I want to include, what's the overall headline or takeaway, the through line helps you summarize the presentation and it becomes your North star. For the presentation.

So a through line could be our search engine optimizations plan we put in last month didn't result in the full 30 percent increase in traffic and whatever sales, whatever you were measuring that we planned for last quarter, we learned several reasons. We learned three reasons why this happened, and we have a plan and recommendations for how to get back on track.

So what that through line does is it gives you clarity on the exact topic, which is the search engine optimization plan. It piques your curiosity with what actually happened as to what the conflict is. So the conflict is that the plan did not perform to expectations, but that you already have a solution on the way to help win the day.

And it Peaks their curiosity, keeps them engaged, but it also becomes the sort of rope that you constantly are asking, does this piece of data hook on or not? Yes. Does this piece of nope, nope, this doesn't actually support my through line. I'm going to put it in the appendix. that's my tool for really creating focus.

Richie Cotton: That seems really useful. And it sounds like the only way this is going to work is if you write the through line before you do the rest of the presentation. Now, I feel like there's going to be temptation to put it off and then maybe try and write something later on. how do you sort of enforce getting that plan up front?

Lea Pica: Well, you know, I actually believe sometimes the story is fluid. Sometimes you might have a starting point and think that the story is this, but then as you dive into the data, you might find deeper nuggets that actually create a twist in the story. And that can be useful as part of the storytelling journey that you take people on.

So I'm all about having a fluid through line. It's just that. When you are starting and saying this is really about the search engine optimization plan and then email marketing and social is like, well, can we jam all of our stuff in there too? And now we're also talking about all these other things.

And that's when it starts to become problematic. If that makes sense.

Richie Cotton: Absolutely. So it's okay to change your story a bit as you sort of put things together. But as long as you've got some single narrative at the start and at the end, not need to be the same thing.

Lea Pica: Definitely, by the end, your final product, the presentation you're giving, should definitely be explainable by your throughline.

Richie Cotton: Absolutely. Okay.

Lea Pica: give a throughline and then your presentation had nothing to do with it. You know? Oh

Richie Cotton: I'd also like to talk to you a bit about speaking skills. So. As you mentioned at the start I've done quite a lot of courses for DataGamp, and I've had a few hundred thousand people take my courses, and they get to review them as well. I went through all the feedback from my courses, I found, most people are pretty happy with my courses, I found the worst piece of feedback out of all the 700, 000 users.

So I'm going to read this to you, and you're going to hopefully give me some

Lea Pica: Lay it on me. I'm ready. Oh

Richie Cotton: sleep disorder problems. I'm sure that they will fall asleep right away. Richie's monotone makes it very difficult to follow such an easy topic.

It's pretty brutal, right?

Lea Pica: man, that is All right, keyboard warrior.

Richie Cotton: I'm that monotonous, but can you give some advice on how to speak more interestingly, keep your audience engaged?

Lea Pica: So before I answer that question, I also want to give a piece of advice for navigating such a glowing review, is to help remember that to be mindful of how much power we give someone's feedback and whether we absorb it as the truth or something to explore or total blowing smoke, just blowing hot air, right?

And it's important to remember like, Keyboard Warriors, there's a great Brene Brown quote that I love so much that I never actually get it right. I should just commit it to memory. But it's something about, if you yourself are not in the ring, taking the shots. I don't want to hear your negative criticism.

And what that is really like is a criticism, There was a much different way they could have gone about giving that feedback. So that's just something I want to share with the world because I have a big kindness pillar to my, you know, to my approach. but okay. So let's say the, You listen to yourself and you're like, okay, I see their point, How do I do that? One of my favorite ways is to record myself and listen to my recordings and ask myself, if I pretend this isn't me, am I engaged by this person? Do I sound like I'm, like, are there vocal patterns that I have where I sound like I'm really starting to trail off after a while and then like, that's one of my patterns I have to be really mindful of.

Am I doing a lot of up talk, or I'm answering a question, but I'm making a statement, that kind of thing. But for monotone, one of my favorite tricks is to read children's bedtime stories. So the way that people read bedtime stories, they tend to become very animated and you're like, Oh my goodness, what's next?

And you're doing the voices of the different characters maybe, or at least I do. And I felt that it really helped me bring a lot more variation to my cadence, more musicality to the way that I'm speaking, but I generally just try to sound really excited and hyped up and, you know, you know, Have a really fun vibe with people, but the truth is I'd have to listen.

I'd have to really listen and hear because you don't sound monotone to me at all right now. But of course, we're having a conversation and I don't know it in the context of you sharing like lecture

Richie Cotton: Absolutely. No. So In the case of that particular course, it was recorded during lockdown. I was recording at home and my apartment

Lea Pica: that's a free

Richie Cotton: yeah, my apartment wasn't very soundproof. So I actually had to record at 3am and not wake my neighbors up. So I think I was a little bit Earring on the side for quietness there.

So, Yeah, not my best vocal performance. But Actually, I have to say, I love the idea of reading children's bedtime stories as a vocal warm up. That seems like a great idea. Just, you know, have a copy of the Winnie the Pooh story before you uh, Go,

Lea Pica: Dr. Seuss,

Dr. Seuss is really great and the way that he writes, it's great for improving diction and your pronunciation because they're like silly combinations of things. So I can get tripped up on words really frequently. So sometimes it helps and it slows you down, helps you. talk a little slower. It also helps you bring in a little more drama and understand storytelling mechanics.

So I often say when you're advancing slide after slide, don't show the whole story on one of your slides. Let it hang there for a second and then Imagine you're, that's that dot moment in a children's book where like, and then the bear said, and then you have to turn the page and you're turning it slow and you're, they're, you know, at the edge of their seats and then you complete the story.

So children's books are really fantastic and easy, cheap, approachable way to learn storytelling mechanics and improve speaking diction and. liven things up a bit.

Richie Cotton: that is a brilliant idea. Oh, so since you mentioned Dr. Zeus, one of my favorite fun generative AI tips, you can get chat GPT to write data analysis code in the style of Dr. Zeus, and it does a pretty good job.

Lea Pica: That sounds like my next late night total time waster.

Richie Cotton: Absolutely.

Lea Pica: That must be really funny. And that, yeah, I mean, use that and put that in a presentation to make people laugh. Humor is a great way to generate good vibes and keep people's attention and, you know, think differently about how you communicate code, people, Get creative. I love that.

Richie Cotton: Excellent. And so one of the things I want to talk about is how you get started with this. So a lot of people, like there may be, they're going with like their first job, they want to start presenting, they want to start doing reports. Like how do you get from zero to my first successful presentation?

Where do you begin?

Lea Pica: don't know. You could go to Amazon and look up this book that just came out. Oh my gosh, it's right here. Wow. Yeah. And seriously I'm obviously going to shamelessly plug it. I love books. That's why I wrote one. But, the book that I wrote was designed to be. a starting point, like you can have no experience presenting and get everything you need.

Everything you basically need out of this book from planning the presentation, the early stages, understanding your audience right to becoming a more confident and powerful speaker. So I actually include speaking skills as part of this process because it doesn't matter how accurate. or impressive your data is, if you don't communicate it confidently, your audience is not going to feel like they can trust you.

And trust is absolutely critical in data communication. So I recommend it because it's, it's literally the book I wish I had when I started out before I made, I don't know how many executives fall asleep with my presentations. But, of angles to go at it, and then, you know, there's lots of other books.

A lot of my book distills a lot of information from other books as well, and tries to really share the brilliance and the wisdom that's already been shared in this field, but that's what I would do. I would really get started with educating yourself on visual communication, on understanding needs, on storytelling mechanics.

Start with a book that, takes that angle, but it's made for data and marketing practitioners. That's my answer.

Richie Cotton: Uh, That's one. Okay. Yeah. Read your book. That's as I say, a very good answer. I would agree with that. But one thing that, I mean, you make the point that nobody's starting from scratch because you say, well, you need some speaking skills. Most people, by the time they get into a job, they've been speaking for several decades.

They know how to say words. It's only like a little step up to speaking in a presentation style. And then with storytelling, Everyone's read books, they've seen movies, it's just a question of internalizing some of that structure and then putting it into practice with your own presentation.

So you're actually most of the way there, even if you think you're a beginner and

Lea Pica: Yes that's one of the things I start my workshops with is I show people, I ask them, what are the things that make stories compelling? What are the common elements? And people already No interesting characters, a compelling and intriguing plot, difficult challenges, a dastardly charismatic villain, a big climax, like they already know, they just have no idea how to translate that paradigm to a slide by slide storytelling format.

in business meetings, and it doesn't require fancy technology. It doesn't require a Ph. D. in programming or R. It's really very simple. It's just information we were never taught about how our brains work.

Richie Cotton: yeah, everyone's sort of got a brain. It's amazing how difficult it is to understand how it works without being

Lea Pica: Everyone in there does. It's kind of crazy. Yeah, so I know we're heading to the close of our time and I want to ask my famous wild card question to you before we wrap because this was so much fun, Richie. So here's my question. What's something you love to do? What's one of your favorite hobbies? Yeah.

Richie Cotton: I actually I've two favorite hobbies at the moment. So it's yoga and hiking. Um,

Lea Pica: Yoga represent. That's awesome. All right. So you're in like a yoga class and you're about to turn over into happy baby, downward butterfly, all that stuff. And suddenly you like fall into a vortex and you're brought back through time to the moment of your first business presentation. Do you remember what you were talking about, and what advice would today you give to past you?

Ha ha ha

Richie Cotton: Oh man, my first business presentation. I think the advice is you should have thought a bit harder about who you were speaking to.

Yeah. So I think in terms of my speaking skills in presentations, I've always been fairly confident speaker, but in terms of the actual content, I didn't have that mental model of Oh, you need to think about what the other person cares about, not what

Lea Pica: Hmm.

Richie Cotton: Been doing.

So I know we've covered this a lot in session already, but I think it's maybe the most important thing is make sure you're not talking to an audience of yourself. You will be talking to the people who are actually in the room with you.

Lea Pica: That is excellent advice, and it makes me think of my favorite quote from Simon Sinek, who has one of the most popular TEDx, no, sorry, not TEDx, TED Talks of all time. He just says so simply, make it about them, not about you. It's just words. Tattoo it, whatever you need, put a sign up, but you do that and you'll win with your audience every time.

Richie Cotton: Absolutely. That's very well put. I do like that. All right. It's been a real pleasure chatting with you, Leah. That's brilliant.

Lea Pica: Thanks. And where can people catch up with you if they want to learn more about you?

Richie Cotton: Okay. Please do go to datacamp. com slash podcast. Check out the DataFrame podcast. We're also available on Spotify and Google podcasts, Apple podcasts, all the platforms. Yeah, check me out there.

Lea Pica: Cool. And then you can find me at liapika. com and to find the podcast slash podcast. And you can always find me on LinkedIn. I love when listeners check in and send me an invite to connect and be sure to put a note that you're from the show and I respond to each and every one.

Richie Cotton: Oh yes. That's a jolly good idea. You can certainly connect with me on LinkedIn as well.

Lea Pica: Don't steal my idea. Don't steal it.

Richie Cotton: I'm definitely stealing all your good ideas.

Lea Pica: Okay, fine. All right. Well, thank you again, Richie. I enjoyed this conversation so much. And I think, you know, I'd love to hear what the listeners have to say. So definitely let us know your thoughts. And wishing you all the best.

Richie Cotton: Yeah, it's been a pleasure. I felt like we could have talked for hours

Lea Pica: I know.

Richie Cotton: yeah, we've kind of wrapped it

Lea Pica: have to have boundaries.

People have boundaries with their time. Thanks.



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Seven Tricks for Better Data Storytelling: Part I

With proper design skills, data teams have the power to frame arguments and persuade with data. That was the key takeaway from a recent episode of DataFramed featuring Andy Cotgrave, the technical evangelist at Tableau. In this two-part blog post, we dist
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Travis Tang

3 min


[Radar Recap] The Art of Data Storytelling: Driving Impact with Analytics with Brent Dykes, Lea Pica and Andy Cotgreave

Brent, Lea and Andy shed light on the art of blending analytics with storytelling, a key to making data-driven insights both understandable and influential within any organization.
Richie Cotton's photo

Richie Cotton

40 min

cheat sheet

Data Storytelling & Communication Cheat Sheet

In this data storytelling and communication cheat sheet, you'll learn about best practices for crafting data stories.
Richie Cotton's photo

Richie Cotton

6 min


Data Storytelling for Absolute Beginners: A Case Study with Green Businesses

In this webinar for data novices, you'll learn about several ways in which you can visualize your data, understand how plots work and structure a story around them.
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Camilo Martinez

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