Book review: Presenting Data Effectively: Communicating Your Findings for Maximum Impact by Stephanie D.H. Evergreen
It would be wrong of me not to declare from the outset that this review is a bit biased, but…I’m totally biased. I have been reading Stephanie Evergreen’s blog since I found out about her last year at an evaluation conference and I think her writing style is terrific and her blog is an accessible and relatable
resource. In short, I think she is tops, and so I was very eager to get my hands on this book.
You know those people that describe themselves as “I’m a visual person”? Well, I’m not one of those. I like words, and lists. I now love doing flowcharts, but data visualisation is much more than that. I think that knowledge of the presentation of data is so important to the future of the quality profession. As quality managers / internal auditors, our job is to communicate. I would hazard a guess that most of us are still using text, or, at best, a couple of graphs here and there. This book encourages us to step it up a notch—but there is also a section on graphs that is very useful, should we need to stick with those.
Within the first eight pages of this book, I thought to myself, “I can do that presentation I’m working on much better”, and immediately applied what I’d already learned to my pretty-boring PowerPoint. That is how practical this book is. As you’d expect, the book is presented and organised really well. It is set out as a course, and invites readers to engage, play and give new things a go. It is also full of useful additional resources.
Being so detailed (I really loved the how-to of using images in PowerPoint), this book is very useful for beginners—and also for those of us who consider ourselves to be intermediate Office users. I learned some tricks about image placement in Word that I know I will use repeatedly.
Plus, I never knew I was so interested in fonts. But fonts are interesting! Reading this book made me want to change every heading in every report I’ve ever written. In a good way.
There are some challenges in this book for us old-school report-writers. Evergreen's ideas around bullet points seem almost revolutionary and dangerous—honestly, I don’t know if I could do what she suggests, but this book intends to push us beyond our boundaries…and it works in that respect, as Evergreen’s writing is intellectually persuasive, although (obviously) nothing beats her pictorial examples. A look at her 2011 Annual Report is inspiring—so simple, yet so effective in delivering its message. It left me wondering…could I write an audit report that way? This book made me think about the possibilities.
This book has managed to change my thinking, but, much more than that, has given me the practical tools and tips for how I can actually go about doing things differently. In that respect, it is excellent value-for-money and well worth the time investment.
Thanks for reading,
The Quality Nerd loves all things Quality Management and Internal Audit...too much is never enough!