I looked at my watch impatiently and saw it was 12:23 pm. This meeting was supposed to finish at noon. We were already 23 minutes overtime because one conversation was running endlessly long. What should’ve been a simple discussion followed by a decision turned into people giving their opinions without any data to back it up. As a result, the conversation looped and wasted everyone’s time. Had each of us come prepared with research to back up our opinions, we could have easily discussed the issue, made a decision, and ended on time.
The Importance of Data
There are three main reasons why it is essential to incorporate data into your team meetings.
Data Gives Clarity
Saying “People love ice cream.” is a relativity safe statement to make, but saying “Out of 82% of the population who love ice cream, only 13% prefer the strawberry flavor.” is much better. Including data in the second statement brings much more clarity to the point you are trying to make. It also helps with decision-making because if all we say is the first statement, we don’t know how much ice cream to buy or what flavor.
Data Makes the Subjective Objective
Using the same ice cream statement above, we see how quickly something turns from a subjective comment to an objective analysis when data is included. It’s hard to argue with a statement that contains data. Providing data from a trustworthy resource removes the emotion or opinion of the person stating the facts.
Data Provides Proof
It’s one thing for you to say that people love ice cream, but it’s another thing for you to back up that statement with data you found from credible sources. If you are trying to sway the group to a decision in a meeting, don’t just come in with your opinion unless you have data to back it up.
3 Ways to Incorporate Date Into Your Meetings
Have A Recorder
If your group reports on the same data set every meeting, assign one person to update the numbers to the most recent information for the meeting. They will be in charge of updating all the numbers before the meeting so that when it’s discussed, we know it’s the most up-to-date data. An example of this might be website page views. Each week the point person would find out the total page views for that time period and record it for the meeting.
Explaining The Data
Assign one person to report and explain each piece of data. For example, if the website pages were exceptionally high this month, the person in charge might quickly clarify that they are high due to a viral tweet that went out. An explanation helps back up any information you are reporting.
Don’t OverDo It
When it comes to data collection, don’t overdo it. All you need is simple data to help back up any points you are trying to make. It shouldn’t take long to get this information; it should only take minutes. Some groups get lost in analysis paralysis because they have endless data to report on. Pick the essential data and include that in your meeting. Leave the rest out.
We paused our conversation and returned to it the next day after agreeing we would each research the topic more. Our conversation and decision took only 12 minutes at our next meeting instead of 35 minutes. What a difference data makes! This time around, our meeting was hyper-focused. We had plenty of time to share our opinions and backed each one up with just the right amount of data.