Top Signs Your Audience Isn't Data Fluent

We talk about Data Fluency a lot at Juice. We're so passionate about it, we wrote a whole book on the subject. Because of this, if you're a regular visitor to our blog there's a good chance that you're fairly data fluent. But even though you may be, oftentimes you have to present to an audience that isn't. If your audience doesn't understand and can't use the information you share with them, then all the time and effort spent into producing the data is wasted. To prevent this from happening, look for these signs to determine whether or not your audience is fluent with data.

1) They rarely use data - Understanding the frequency at which your audience uses data is key to assessing their level of data fluency. Ask yourself, how often are they looking at data? Is it daily, weekly, monthly? Once you know how much time they typically spend working with or looking at data, your strategy becomes much clearer. Plan on keeping your presentation simple, and be prepared to answer lots of questions.

2) They're surrounded by too much data - It may be the case that your audience has so much data coming at them regularly that they can't make sense out of what you're presenting to them through all the noise. These people are inundated with data daily, and are most likely pretty decent at talking the data talk (think "data conversationalist" rather than data fluent). Tailor your message to be brief, hitting only the key points and focusing on select metrics.

3) They're uncomfortable with technology - Do they have a smartphone with apps? Many apps rely heavily on data, and whether or not they're familiar with them could be a sign of their level of data fluency. If instead you notice that they have a flip phone clipped to their belt, they might be what we call data-phobic: they intentionally avoid or mistrust data. A person's lack of technology adoption may offer a clue to his or her resistance to consuming data. Be able to recognize data-phobes so that you can deliver your message without overwhelming them.

These are just a few indicators that your audience may not be data fluent. There are others, and each situation will vary by circumstance. Learn more about data fluency by checking out Juice founders Zach and Chris Gemignani's book, Data Fluency: Empowering Your Organization with Effective Data Communication.