Improve your Influence as a Data Scientist - Part 2

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This blog is the last part of a two-part series about improving your influence as a Data Scientist. The last part introduced a Funnel Up and Funnel Down approach where you use either method depending on your audience. For technical audiences who want to understand details, the Funnel Down approach is the most appropriate. For non-technical audiences (especially at the executive level) the Funnel Up approach is what you want to use.

Let’s now assume that you are using the Funnel Up approach, enabling the audience to focus on you instead of focusing on making sense of the data.

Great! Now you need to focus on the actual insights to get to the conclusion you want everyone to agree on. At this point, everyone is now listening to you, so you now need to deliver the valuable insights and conclusions in your presentation.

This last step revolves around leading your audience to the same conclusion you’ve made.

Here are the steps:

  • Develop conclusions for a deck
  • Structure deck with evidence that lead to the intended conclusion
    • Present evidence in a compelling manner using the “so what?” framework
  • Develop transitions for each slide that reinforces the evidence, leading your audience to come to your same conclusions

Develop Conclusions

When you’re creating decks to influence the business, you need to have your audience agree with your conclusions. Once your audience agrees with the conclusions, discussions can then take place in order to make decisions.

Depending on the audience, that discussion may occur during the presentation; and you definitely want to be part of that discussion!

Here’s the trick to getting the audience to agree with your conclusions: get them to the same conclusions you’ve made.

But in order to get there, you need to actually come up with your conclusions first. From there you can work backwards through your deck to come up with slides to support your conclusions.

Structure Deck Accordingly

Once you have your conclusions, structure your presentation appropriately to focus on proving out your conclusions. All slides being presented should focus on leading to your conclusions. If you have any auxiliary information (nice to know information), put them in the Appendix section.

You need to present just the right amount of information (no more, no less) to make efficient use of everyone’s time.

Always Ask Yourself: “So What?”

Furthermore, make sure to structure each slide so that each slide will present an insight (from Part 1).

Once you’ve developed a slide, ask yourself “So What?” This question will force you to think about what’s the point of your slide and what does the slide do in helping support your conclusions.

In addition, structure your headlines and speech to lead people to the conclusions you’re making. Remember that it’s more effective if you present insights and data that will allow your audience to reach the same conclusions.

Each slide should flow naturally from one another. Use transitions to help you weave each slide together.

Develop Transitions

I’ve seen many analysts simply present their insights and abruptly move onto the next set of insights. You can help your audience prepare for the next slide by creating a transition that links the insight you just presented to the next set of insights.

Transitions help pave a mental pathway for everyone to easily follow to help them reach the same conclusions you will make at the end of the presentation.

I recommend you write out your transitions that will lead people to the next set of insights and conclusions.

Here’s an example:

Assume I’m presenting a slide on customers that went through the company’s website over the span of 7 days.

The insight is this:

Customers tend to visit our site 2x more often when we have a deal set to expire on our site (expires on Day 7).

Now, the next insight I want to show is that the majority of these customer visits are actually existing customers, not the new customers that we spent $100,000 on Social Media to acquire, telling us we need to improve our Social Media targeting.

Here is how I set up my transitions:

I pose questions.

Knowing that during the last days of the campaign, we saw a big spike of customer visits, the next question we want to ask is: Who is actually driving this spike in visits? Is it our existing customers or the new customers that we spent $100 K on acquiring? Let’s dive into this…

By simply posing a question, you actively engage people’s thoughts and mental processing enough to have them follow your line of thinking, helping them reach the sames conclusions as you.

Your transitions act as a roadmap for people to connect your insights that will lead them to come up to the same conclusions you’ve made.


For a Data Scientist, driving influence is not about telling people what to do, but to guide them to come up with the same conclusions you’ve made.

Your insights and interpretations help bring value to the organization. It’s simply not enough to present information and data, but you need to:

  • Engage with your audience with insights first
  • Deliver a story your audience can easily follow in order for them to reach the same conclusions

Good luck in driving your influence!

Written on July 29, 2021