What is data puke and how do you prevent it?

Learn how to avoid “data puke” by understanding the basics of data storytelling and using the right tools for your analysis.

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3 min read
July 7, 2020

What is data puke?

Have you ever been overwhelmed by data? If so, you know how hard it can be to make sense of it. We call this “data puke” – when there’s so much information that it becomes difficult to understand and make decisions. We’ve all seen it before - big, confusing data tables and dashboards that don’t tell us anything.

Signs your producing "data puke"

  • Your audience is silent
  • Your audience is confused
  • Your audience is no longer paying attention
  • Your audience doesn’t take any next steps

How to avoid it

Fortunately, you can take some simple steps to ensure your analysis is compelling and avoids data puke. 

Structuring your story

First, you need to understand how to effectively present your data in an easy way to digest and interpret. Using data storytelling, you can turn raw numbers into meaningful insights that are easier for everyone to understand. By focusing on the story behind the data, you can help marketers glean valuable insights and help them make informed decisions. Not only will this help marketers better understand what you are trying to share, but it will also make your presentations more engaging and effective. Data storytelling starts with taking a step back from your analysis and asking yourself, what do you want your audience to know? Why is it important? What should they do with this information? Use this to frame your story. Keep it short and straightforward by only including relevant and meaningful information. 

Enhancing your story

When used correctly, a statistic or data visualization can help present complex information in an easy-to-understand format. However, what often happens instead is the urge to “show your work,” resulting in too much data and too many charts. Your audience likely does not need this level of detail. Save the visualizations for the major beats of your story. That will have much more impact. Finally, which visualization you use and how it’s formatted can also significantly affect how well your audience will understand and respond to the information. There are tons of tips and free tools for better data visualization that are readily available. Take advantage of these resources to enhance your story even further. 

Communicating your story

We know not every analysis needs to be a big production; however, if you want to educate your audience and make an impact, a little extra effort can go a long way. Telling a story over a few slides makes the information much easier to digest than a long email or a spreadsheet. You can also control how much information to present by using animations. We LOVE animations and find them to be a vastly under-utilized tool. Having your slide literally build as you tell your narrative is powerful because it forces your audience to pay attention to what you are saying, as opposed to reading ahead. It’s also more visually engaging and less overwhelming, minimizing the risk of confusion and boredom. We recommend checking out videos highlighting tips and tricks for better presentations and animations.


The next time you present complex information, think about what story you’re trying to tell. Is it coming through loud and clear? Is there a more effective way to display the data? Are you presenting the information effectively? Be creative and remember presentation matters as much as the analysis if you want to be effective.

Need help with data storytelling? Magic Layer has years of experience in this field, and we’ve partnered with hundreds of other companies to help them make the most of their data and analytics. Schedule a meeting with us today to discuss your specific needs - we’re excited to hear from you!

Thoughts? Feedback? 

We'd love to hear what you think! Email us at [email protected].

Angela Glaubitz
July 7, 2020

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