5 Mistakes to Avoid When Presenting Data

15.11.2017 by admin

Presentations are the perfect time to share data. It doesn’t matter if you’re presenting a sales pitch, project budget plan, or marketing campaign update – good presentation skills bring your data to life and give you credibility. You want your data to come across as relevant, convincing, and impressive.

Some people are born with amazing public speaking skills, and some have to work a little harder for it. In both cases, the pressure to be a top-notch presenter can be overwhelming. One small slip up and all of your hard work could go to waste.

To make sure you’re confident and prepared, I’ve put together a list of five mistakes you should avoid when presenting data:

1) Obsession with perfection

Many presenters believe they have to be perfect to be believable – hit every line, topic, and dramatic pause on cue. But the truth is, perfection doesn’t gain the audience’s trust. Humans aren’t perfect! It’s better to show that you are relatable and genuine.

Presenting a ‘perfect’ version of yourself and your data may lead people to believe you are trying to be something you aren’t. Don’t get me wrong, I highly suggest you put a lot of time and energy into practicing your presentation. Just remember to try and connect with your audience in a very real way. Crack some off-the-cuff jokes, utilize wit, tell personal stories and ask questions.

Key takeaways: When you appear comfortable and relatable it puts your audience at ease. Be professional, so your viewers trust you, while showing that you empathize with them. They will be more interested in what you have to say.

2) Lack intensity

We have all seen our fair share of boring data presentations. Don’t present your data as if you’re reading off a spreadsheet. The last thing you want to do is put your audience to sleep. If you are just focused on presenting facts and getting out of the spotlight, you might miss the chance to truly connect and interact with your audience.

Emphasize important data points and insights so people know what you’re saying is applicable and exciting. Your tone of voice can quickly alienate your audience or draw people in. You should also use eye contact to stay present and maintain intimacy.

Don’t be afraid to shock and surprise your audience with stats or images, if it works with your data story. These elements may boost adrenaline or add humor to an otherwise dry presentation. Anything out of the ordinary or unexpected could make your presentation more memorable.

Key takeaways: Your voice is powerful. Let your audience know the significance of your data using eye contact, surprising stats, and dynamic tone of voice. Lure them in with excitement and intensity.

3) Data without context

The biggest mistake you can make when presenting data is not giving context. Your data tells a story, make sure your audience knows what that story is. It will make your data easier to digest and give your message added weight. Don’t just assume your audience will know what your numbers mean.

Offer data visualizations, like charts and maps, to make your presentation more compelling. Visual elements have a better chance of staying in your viewer’s mind long after the presentation is over.

Key takeaways: Data alone isn’t enough. You need to tell a story. This keeps the audience interested and helps them gauge your data appropriately.

4) Expectations set too high

Having high expectations is good for many reasons, but you have to be prepared for the unexpected. Maybe your jokes fall flat, your data doesn’t immediately impress the audience, or you notice that people have started to pull out their phones.

Don’t start with your biggest ‘aha’ moment. Let the anticipation start low and build throughout your presentation. One way to guarantee your viewers will be satisfied is to follow up a good piece of information with an even better one.

Key takeaways: When it comes to audience expectations – work from the ground up. Start low and build the anticipation. Also, never promise something you can’t deliver. You don’t want your audience to feel like they didn’t get what they were promised.

5) Skip questions

Don’t skip audience questions because they put their hand up in the middle of your presentation. Saving the Q&A portion of your presentation for the very end could lead to crickets if you cut people off when they have a burst of inspiration.

Make your presentation more of a conversation. Answer questions as they arise, ask questions throughout your talk and encourage audience participation. This way they will be more engaged with you, giving you a chance to clear up any confusion before you continue speaking.

Key takeaways: In order for your presentation to be a success, answer questions as they come up. This is incredibly helpful, especially when you’re presenting data. It clears up confusion, doubts, debate, and disagreements. It can also give you the opportunity to show you know your stuff and let the audience know you appreciate what they have to say.


Don’t let the pressure of giving a great data presentation get the best of you. If you avoid these mistakes, show that you’re human, involve the audience, and explain your data, you’ll be on your way to giving a flawless presentation.

While blog posts are helpful, real-life experience is even better. Learn from your mistakes as you go! It will sharpen your skills and help you present data like a pro.

Niraj Ranjan Rout is the founder of Hiver, an app that turns Gmail into a powerful customer support and collaboration tool. When he’s not working at Hiver, programming, or providing support, Niraj loves playing guitar. Niraj can be easily reached on Twitter and LinkedIn.