PowerPoint tutorial for data science (part 4): The three commandments of slide writing

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To go alongside the other methods I mentioned in the PowerPoint for data science tutorials, I present you with the three commandments of slide writing.  These are some of the rare times you will hear me use the words “always” and “never” because I think these warrant it.  Keep these in mind as you are writing your slides and I guarantee you will communicate more effectively with the business side.

  1. Always tell the reader what the conclusion is. Come right out and say what you found, and especially some of the ramifications.  If you leave the conclusion up to the reader, they might not come to the conclusion you think they will, and that’s a problem.  Every second you are spending to correct their misunderstanding is wasted time and lowers your odds of getting agreement.
  2. Never make your reader work too hard. This goes along with rule #1, but there are some other points to note.  They won’t know if your test should be one sided or two sided, or why it was important you used a non-parametric one.  You need to walk them through the results and why your work was robust and important without making them work hard to understand technical details.
  3. Always be concise. Give your reader what they need to know, and that’s it.  But there is a dichotomy; you also shouldn’t rely on jargon or tech speak.  If there is significant risk in your conclusions, tell them about it without using terms like recall, type 3 error, or giving them a p value.

These commandments are a must when you are presenting to a non-technical audience.  If you follow them and my other suggestions for things like descriptive slide titles, the pyramid principle, and better graphs you will be more successful in getting your recommendations implemented.