In any professional’s life, there are some recurring and dreaded questions you must answer: What are your career goals? Could you squeeze this into your schedule? Are you trying to share your screen?
But there’s one single big question that I still get asked by the most surprising parties and at the most unexpected moments. Let’s see… It’s often among the first five questions when meeting someone new. I’ve experienced several social gatherings where I've had my near and dear (and at least once my own partner) ask me to ”explain it once more”. And now, even my employer asked me to share my experience.
I answer questions
I present information
Communicating clearly with and between different stakeholders (often exemplified as IT engineers on one side and marketing directors on the other).
How do you present your work and what is the most efficient way to answer the question at hand in relation to your audience? Should you rely on plain text or spoken word? Would database tables do the job? Or is it best, as it often is, to use visual tools such as graphs, flowcharts or maps? And if so, how many are necessary, and of what kind?
Answering the "so what?". This involves going beyond what your findings, maps or charts show and dive deeper into what they mean. It could also include finding more data and merging it to your results to clarify your message.
Stretching into last mile analytics, this is where you ensure that the answers you’ve generated lead to something valuable. It might include repeating your presentations, answering follow-up questions and offering your data-driven view to the issue at hand. An important step here is to not only answer the initial question but also support stakeholders in formulating new questions to answer.
Always relevant and seemingly self-evident. Still, carefully taking note of your target audience’s questions and feedback will help you in formulating and clarifying your message for the best possible results. Listening is also a skill that will help you formulate good questions to answer in the first place.
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