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Dataviz Informs Audiences, but Also has the Power to Convince Them

The visualization of data and information is a good way to convey information to an audience. Many charts and graphs clearly show the important information its creators want to express. Data visualization can be informative and even entertaining. However, if a presenters’ goal is to convince or persuade an audience, data visualization must be planned and executed very carefully to amplify and isolate the data that is meant to convince the audience.

If you want to convince an audience, it is not enough to simply depict accurate information. The ability to persuade someone to change their opinion or take certain actions may be driven by unconscious cues present in the presentation of data. When you are trying to convey a specific point of view, certain techniques may be used to influence the audience to react one way or another. Omitting certain information that does not help make your case and drawing attention to the main idea you are trying to convey are examples of how to use the availability of information to persuade.

Being persuasive is not about how intricate and detailed the information is portrayed. It is more persuasive to make the important details easy to see and digest. It is vital to focus on the main idea, make it stand apart from the rest of the information, and to adjust the data that surrounds the main idea. Data visualization can ask, “What is the information that should be shown?” or it can be more persuasive by stating, “I need to convince them of this.”

Data visualization can make information stand out by utilizing design techniques to emphasize your most salient points. Using bold text or different colors draw attention to the important data. It is also possible to make data stand out by isolating the important points and minimizing other aspects of the data. The fewer number of unique elements that compete with the main idea, the easier it is to persuade your audience. Another way to isolate data is to adjust the data that surrounds your main point. Removing reference points can also make your main idea stand out by eliminating distractions and focusing on your relevant data.

Persuasion does not rely on an overabundance of information. In fact, successful data visualization conveys an idea using simplicity rather than too much information. Focusing on your main idea, making your important information or main idea “pop”, and adjusting or minimizing the information around your main idea are methods that have been proven to successfully convince audiences using data visualization.

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