How to Be More Insightful and Strategic with Data-Based Findings
At the close of each quarter, strategic planners in the healthcare industry have the opportunity to present quarterly findings and progress updates to executive teams and upper-level management. These quarterly meetings often provide critical insight to continued advancement in planned growth-related projects or could be the ideal time to present new ideas. They present an opportunity to share key findings to leadership that can change the course of how a hospital’s planning, marketing, and business development departments will function in the weeks and months to come. Therefore, it is critical that you are prepared to tell the most compelling story possible with the data you have on-hand.
Executives expect these quarterly updates to be high-level summaries of the market landscape and cover everything from your hospital’s market share, trended volume, competitor positions, product lines, payor mix, patient migration patterns and more, to be presented in a brief, insightful, and visually appealing way. Insight to your progress in reaching planned goals and new details about emerging market opportunities will need to be clear and easy to interpret and must readily facilitate productive conversation.
In order to deliver the brief, insightful presentations that are expected from leadership, strategic planners must pull and sift through significant amounts of data to determine what details are most important. Planners are then tasked with transforming these meaningful details into a compelling story. Stratasan has compiled a list of six ways to tell a better story with your data.
1. Write a statement of purpose for the presentation and keep it to one sentence. A purpose statement is valuable for many reasons. For starters, it will hold you accountable to your goal(s) as you sift through all the data. It will save you time that could be lost chasing down unnecessary analytics and and will keep your presentation clean and focused on the main idea. A statement of purpose will also be valuable when it comes time to present your findings to a larger group. You will be able to quickly and succinctly give an overview of what viewers can expect to find as they review your work. Lastly, it will help you stay the course in your preparation efforts and will keep viewers of the presentation from feeling overwhelmed, as they will be able to follow your clear and direct report.
2. Use visualizations and have data tables available to hand out as needed. Once you’ve sifted through your data and have a focused outline of what you want to present, keep in mind that graphics will be a key component of the presentation. Most people find information easier to digest in graphical format, so help your viewers by having charts and graphs readily available to support your data findings. CFOs in particular will likely ask for data tables that demonstrate the numerical trends you are presenting. Remember, you’re telling a story with your information—and stories are often easier to interpret and digest with supporting visuals.
Many charts and graphs can be built in Excel or Google Sheets or you can bring on a graphic designer to help make your presentation even more polished. If you are looking for an integrated solution that will combine both the data analysis component with the visual report building, Stratasan’s Launch Pathway provides integrated mapping and presentation-ready visualizations allowing for the creation of easy and attractive reports that take only minutes to assemble. Additionally, if you don’t have easy access to a graphic designer or a tool like Launch Pathway, Venngage and Piktochart are examples of online offerings that make it simple and affordable—if not free—to create professionally designed presentations that are sure to ‘wow’.
3. Write out insights; don’t just show graphs. Although we’ve just outlined the importance of including visuals, don’t depend solely on your charts and graphs to explain of what these numbers mean. Lead your audience to your findings by including “conclusions” or “what do these numbers tell me” slides.
It is your job as the presenter to guide your audience through the specific story you want them to hear. Keep it simple; don’t overwhelm them with too much copy on each slide, but be sure that your story is easy to grasp and follow throughout your presentation.
4. Be brief and cut out all extraneous information from your presentation. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I didn’t have the time”. His quote captures the reality that it requires more time and thought to be brief than it does to pour forth large amounts of data. Keep this in mind as you schedule time to prepare for your presentation.
As you pull together your presentation, omit any information that doesn’t contribute to the story; anything that could be considered extraneous. It may be interesting, but does it contribute to your story? If not, pull it.
While it may be second nature to you as a strategic planner to digest an overwhelming amount of data, your audience may have a harder time. Remember: you’re telling a story to executives who don’t have the time nor inclination to drill through pages upon pages of spreadsheets to get the details they’re looking for. They want to know: what are the critical findings, and what does this mean for our strategy?
The responsibility is on you, as the presenter, to hone in on the most important details and keep the presentation lean and to the point. This takes time! It is challenging and time-consuming to cull through large spreadsheets to find key components, develop visuals, and then articulate specific insights.
5. Review the presentation against your statement of purpose. As you come to the final stages of your presentation development and you begin reviewing your work, keep your original statement of purpose handy and easy to reference. Pull it out, review your one-sentence goal, and then be sure that each layer of your presentation connects to and supports the purpose statement. Anything that doesn’t should likely be cut and saved for another presentation where it is more relevant.
As you review your work one final time, walk through these steps to ensure you have followed the right path to a successful presentation:
- Do you have a one-sentence purpose statement that has guided your presentation development?
- Have you created graphs and visuals to go along with the above mentioned information?
- Do you have supporting insights into progress towards goals and emerging market opportunities?
- Have you selected only the key information and placed it into a Powerpoint, removing anything that doesn't lead the executive team toward a specific strategic goal?
6. Practice makes perfect. Even if you have the best deck in the world, it is still critical that you present your findings in an engaging way. For most people, this can only happen with good preparation and practice. Several run-throughs of your presentation are advisable in advance of the scheduled meeting. Don’t hesitate to talk through the presentation aloud, listening for moments where your points may be unclear or hard to follow. Consider asking members of your team to review the presentation ahead of time and even listen to you as you practice. Ask for their honest input and feedback on how you can improve.
As a strategic planner in healthcare, a lot of responsibility rests upon your shoulders to make the most of these quarterly presentations. Understanding this is your opportunity to sway the thoughts and opinions of your executive teams and upper-level management, you want to be equipped and ready to put your best foot forward. Success in this area will likely affect how you and your team move forward with planned growth-related projects or if you will be able to launch new initiatives that require additional expenditure.
Building these quarterly presentations could easily take a week to complete, and that’s if you already have templates for the type of information you’re gathering. While it likely won't take more than 30 minutes for you to deliver your presentation to the team, which may be all the time you have at the executive meeting, keep in mind, it may take you up to a week to create that 15-30 minute presentation.
Additionally, without a tool that can support the type of data analysis needed for a focused and effective presentation, strategic planners may become overwhelmed with the task of manually pulling reports, creating pivot tables and graphs, and culling the all the information available to the most pertinent pieces that are worth sharing. Stratasan’s Launch Pathway provides all the above mentioned information for you in minutes, not hours or days, giving you valuable time back to spend on more strategic activities. Launch Pathway also serves as a tool to help you achieve company-wide alignment with the easy-to-share and understand reporting that can more quickly encourage high-level strategic conversations. All levels of your organization will find themselves on the same page, from analysts to executive management, expediting data-based conversations around how to solve growth related questions.
If you are looking for a tool to support your efforts as a strategic planner, schedule a call with Sean Conway. Sean will demonstrate how Launch Pathway can improve your presentation building skills and set you up for more successful quarterly meetings.
Article by Lee Ann Lambdin, SVP of Healthcare Strategy, and Forrest Rich, Health Analyst for Stratasan