A spoon full of pretty makes the stats go down

I’m a bit of a super geek when it comes to numbers. I’m the kind of person who loves test cricket because it’s five days of batting averages and run rates, calculating the ball angles in snooker and watching Jeremy Vine bounce around his giant virtual charts during Newsnight as he explains voting patterns.

I have spread sheets for everything and over the years I’ve realised that no matter how pretty I make my data, some of my marketing and communications colleagues just aren’t interested.

I was at first offended on Excel’s behalf that team members would not appreciate its functional beauty and awesome calculating and organisational power. I was then saddened that the way the information was being presented might prevent people from making evidence based decisions when shaping campaigns.

So, in much the same way a mother might blitz vegetables into their child’s tea to try and ‘sneak’ the goodness in I started to look at ways I could sneak my stats into work reports and the minds of my managers through a cunning plan – make them look pretty.

Infographics I have found particularly useful in terms of pitching campaign plans, presenting evaluation or just monthly reporting. Piktochart is a good free site that can generate them for you if you don’t have design skills.

These are some of my other favourite methods of presenting information in creative ways:

• Sketch casts – One of the most fun projects I’ve been involved with in a while was working with my student staff to create a sketch cast to encourage students to vote in the spring elections. It was quick and cheap to produce and got un-engaged students to view it. The RSA animate series is my favourite other example of sketch casts.

• Comic strips – No longer just a good way to communicate with children, if you’re not convinced check out PhD Comics explaining the Higgs Boson. With no drawing skills I had a go at a comic strip using images to present my research.

• Rich pictures – Good for pictorially displaying a range of issues or perceptions around services on one page. IT’s more of an engagement tool and could be used to represent the outcomes of consultation. Trafford Healthcare NHS Trust commissioned this really effective rich picture to capture and communicate engagement work around its vision.

• Kinetic typography – Good when you just have audio and want to add a quick and easy visual element to it.

• Word clouds – Good for identifying the most frequently used words in a document, often used for social media analysis. Check out Wordle if you want to have a go at generating your own word cloud.

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