Presenting Analytics to the C-Level Executive

For many analysts, presenting your data analysis and reporting to C-Level executives is challenging and often frustrating. The company invests a lot of time, money and effort in the process. The data is clean, the proper conclusions are drawn and the information is communicated and visually supported by charts, graphs and tables in a bang up presentation.  So why is it often ignored or given little weight in the decision making process?

The answer is found in the disparity between the mind set of the analyst and that of the executive.  The analyst looks at data, cleans it, looks at it again, thinks about the data, thinks about the problem, looks at the data again and comes to a conclusion.  The decision is driven by the data, not by the analyst. It is very logical.  Not so with C-level executives.

To say that C-level execs make decisions based solely on their gut feeling or past experience is to do them a disservice.  Although this often appears to be the case, most execs make decisions, whether they realize it or not, based on the axiom, what’s good for the company is good for me provided (this is important) the decision is one I can personally benefit from (increase in power, acknowledged success, etc.) or one I can deflect if the decision proves detrimental. Data analysis and logic have little to do with it.

As an analyst you have a greater chance of C-level execs accepting your data analysis and reporting if you understand these 5 rules.

  1. Less is more.  State your conclusion first but don’t say how you came to that conclusion.
  2. Stay on point. Don’t provide information that doesn’t directly support your conclusion.
  3. Numbers are boring. Execs will only “hear” a number that has a dollar sign in front of it.  So don’t use them.
  4. Speak in plain English.  No jargon. If you must use a technical term explain it briefly and succinctly (without using other terms to describe that one!)
  5. Give’em what they want, leave’em wanting more. Present charts and graphs only if the exec asks for them (have them in a packet if presenting to a group).

Although the data is clear, let the exec ask questions that leads them to the conclusion you already know. It empowers them, allowing them to decide what’s best for the company rather than having the data force their hand. Being heard will empower you.

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