4. Do: Communicate your Big Idea

Get clear on the Big Idea: a one-sentence digest of your analysis. The Big Idea articulates both what you are trying to say, and what’s at stake for your reader – why they should care (Knaflic, p. 30). State your Big Idea in your dashboard. Make it simple enough to be memorable. Reinforce it throughout the analysis to use the power of repetition. (The Big Idea, and the power of repetition in sticky storytelling are ideas that Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic talks about in her book Storytelling with Data.) For a dashboard style that lets the user look up their own metrics instead, you are not exactly giving findings, but its purpose is still worth mentioning in a short About section.

Now go one level down and identify key elements or insights (something new, interesting, and/or valuable) that help you illustrate this Big Idea.

Ideally keep them down to no more than 3 (4 is pushing it) due to short-term memory limitations of a human reader. Make sure you are making them clear throughout your piece, and not straying too far on tangents, or too deep into detail.

It is understandable that you’ve put a lot of work into the analysis and want that to be visible. But clear communication of your main takeaways will help you achieve that better than a wall of text where the visceral reader reaction is to click out of it.

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