How to Use Data Visualization Create Better Reports in 4 Steps


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Reports help your business in every way. The information—especially data—communicated shows what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong, and how you could do things better. But the story and insights are only effective if they are properly presented. In this series, we show you the 4 steps to crafting a killer report that makes an impact.

Today, we start with lesson 1: Understanding and Analyzing Your Data.

Why use data in your reports? Because nothing helps sway your audience or provide objectivity like cold, hard data. And when that data is properly visualized, your message is easier to understand, more memorable, and more impactful.

So, when you’re ready to craft a killer report, start with your data. Whether it’s a variety of spreadsheets, metrics, or statistics—assemble the data you plan to work with. But before you delve into crafting your story with data, you need to understand what your data is actually saying.

Start by reading our data refresher, Data 101: The Data Basics You Need to Know, to learn more about the different data types and relationships.

When you have a better understanding of how data works, you are better equipped to both interpret and visualize it effectively. Now, you can start to find the story in your data.

Once you have assembled your data, it’s time to dig in and find what will be most relevant to your report. The most powerful communication happens when data shows—not just tells—the story. Of course, it’s up to you to find that story, and it generally relies on being able to showcase both the similarities and differences within your data set.

As you begin to explore your data, certain elements will stand out, including:

Trends in Data

Correlations in Data

Outliers in DataAs your story begins to take shape, consider all angles of the message you are trying to communicate in your report. Other elements may stand out that should be included, such as:

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3 Questions to Ask While You Analyze

  • What might be the cause of the data pattern?
  • Is there a key element missing?
  • What related information might be relevant to this story?

Once you have identified the data relationships that will be most compelling to include, you are ready to craft your report. Stay tuned for Lesson 2: Outlining Your Report.

Want more? Check out:
3 Reasons to Embrace Data-Driven Storytelling
5 Brands That Nailed Their Annual Reports

And download our new e-book: 

How to Use Data Visualization to Win Over Your Audience