Spitfire Strategies

A Better Way to Explain Your Data

You’ve got a really complicated concept to explain and it’s really important that your target audience understand it. Do you:

  1. Pull together a PowerPoint presentation with 38 slides filled with data analysis written in 12 point font?
  2. Write a 1200 word blog post accompanied by charts, graphs and an annotated appendix?
  3. Weep softly under your desk?
  4. None of the above – I make an infographic!

If you answered D, you’re correct. So often, when people are faced with complicated information and a ton of data, they have a tendency to download it all and dump it into a long explainer, on the assumption that if some information is good, more information is better.

We’re here to suggest you do the opposite. Instead of overwhelming your audience with all the facts, guide them through the data and give meaning to the clutter. Your goal is to give them just enough to inspire them to act – and that is when an infographic comes in handy.

Like any strategic communication piece, a good infographic will be tailored for your target audience. The first step is to think through who you are trying to reach, and what you want them to do after they read your infographic. Here are a few examples. Prichard Committee used a timeline infographic to remind legislators of Kentucky’s record of progress.


The Jacksonville Public Education Fund created an infographic to educate parents and community members focused on improvements in Florida’s school grading system and clarifyed the new state standards. Each infographic helps the audience see a full picture of the data in a clear and simple way. 


The next thing you need to do is look at your data and decide what is most compelling to your audience based on the things they value. The Prichard Committee’s infographic smartly incorporated a basketball hoop to the layout to appeal to the state’s fondness for the game. A good place to start is to select three data points that you think will resonate with your audience and inspire them to act. Of course, sometimes you’ll choose more – and other times, one laser-targeted fact will be enough.

Take a look at the data you have chosen and look for comparisons you can make that would help transform abstract numbers into compelling visual messages. For instance, if you’re talking about how many kids drop out of school each day, you could quote the number (“7,000 a day”), or you could use social math to make that statistic easy to visualize (“enough kids to fill nearly 100 school buses”).

Once you’ve narrowed down your data, and have six or fewer points you’re attempting to express, it’s time to create your infographic. If you have the resources to spare, consider engaging a graphic designer to help you shape the best infographic for your organization. If you’re tight on time and money, or have some design know-how yourself, we recommend checking out the following three tools to help you pull your visuals together:

Piktochart: This interactive website includes a selection of easy-to-use infographic templates and a handy icon library, so novices don’t have to create something from scratch. 

Canva: An online tool that offers design templates optimized for each social media platform, includes an icon library and has a design school with free tutorials.

PicMonkey: This photo editing website enables you to easily touch up and edit photos, add text overlays, create collages and design images that are ready to share on social media.

For more information on how to build great graphics check out Spitfire’s Digital S.M.A.R.T.S. tip sheet titledA Picture is Worth 1,000 Words”!

“This is a truly transformative program and there is no question that it is preparing leaders to be courageous communicators.”

- Colleen Bailey, Executive Director, The National Steinbeck Center

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