Top Three Thing Hans Rosling Has Taught Me

    Posted: February 20th, 2008 | Author: MO | Filed under: Uncategorized |

    The TED talks held in Monterey California have always been a trusted inspirational and motivational resource for me. To watch the luminaries of today speak on demand has certainly help stoke some creative thinking sessions.

    One particular TED talk I have watched numerous times since it was posted two years ago: “Debunking third-world myths with the best stats you’ve ever seen” with Hans Rosling. The content of the presentation about current world trends is fairly interesting alone, but Hans sells this normally sleepy data with such energy that you can’t help but be drawn in. The video’s description says it best:

    “You’ve never seen data presented like this. With the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, Hans Rosling debunks myths about the so-called “developing world” using extraordinary animation software developed by his Gapminder Foundation(now owned by Google)”.

    Q: Why do you keep watching this video?

    In the field of Online Marketing (especially Search Marketing) large sums of data are “played” with everyday. The problem is few interpret this transparent data with the vigor of Mr. Rosling. Now I’m not implying every piece of data needs this level of Showmanship, but their a few lessons Hans can teach anyone presenting any large set of data:

    1. Connect your Audience with the Numbers:

    The saying “Know the audience” can’t be used enough. Find ways to make the numbers meaningful by relating the numbers to something more tangible. The classic (a bit overused today) is the Stadium analogy. “and in our campaign we drove the equivalent of 25 filled to capacity Fenway Park’s (It’s a small park but that’s 990,125) to..” Ideally you use something your audience will relate to.

    2. Use the Narrative Arch
    Yes, you do need to think about the pacing of your data. The data naturally lends itself to great story telling if you tell the full story. this can be a challenge at times as people just tend to care about Key Performance Indicators(KPI’s) with out seeing the full story, which is akin to seeing an average of a number without explaining the distribution that drives the average.

    3. Demonstrate Enthusiasm
    The substance and integrity of the data should be paramount, but by Mr. Rosling’s example it doesn’t need to be “Dry toast”. Rehearsal for any presentation is always necessary, but when presenting intricate data it’s best to over rehearse the specific data points so you can speak to them on a whim with confidence. Hans has become a mascot for enthusiastically presenting data; just find your internal Hans Rosling.



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