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NextGen Magazine


Data or Stories: Tailoring Presentations to Your Audience

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Oct 26, 2017

As CPAs you're probably going to be giving a lot of presentations over the course of your careers. While there's a lot of guides out there on how to go beyond the boring Power Point slides that make people want to chew off a limb to escape, much of it is broadly generic. So how do you tailor a presentation for, say, tech people versus finance people or HR people or sales people? On at least one point, an article in Forbes offers an answer. The author looked at the data from an online survey asking people whether they find data or stories more convincing. While conventional advise generally tells you that people will be more engaged with a good story, the data finds that it depends on who exactly it is you're giving that presentation to. 

So, not surprisingly, if you are giving a presentation to primarily IT people, you should focus less on creating an engaging story and more on presenting the data, as 56 percent said they find facts and data more persuasive. Similarly, 55 percent of those in finance also preferred facts and data over stories. 

On the other hand, people in sales, marketing and human resources strongly preferred stories. 61 percent of sales people, 63 percent of marketing people and 67 percent of HR people said they are more persuaded by stories than by data. 

So if you want to give a presentation, remember to keep your audience in mind when deciding whether to weave a story or lay out a fact pattern. It could make a big difference.