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Introducing the Present Beyond Measure Show with Lea Pica

It’s alive, it’s alive! It’s…the first episode of The Present Beyond Measure Show!

Lea Pica - Present Beyond Measure Show Podcast - in iTunes

Oh man, I'm crazy excited about bringing to you the first podcast at the intersection of analytics, data visualization, and stellar presentation!

You can download the podcast to your computer or listen to it here on the blog. I’ve also submitted my podcast feed to iTunes, so you can subscribe there soon – but I’ll let you know when it’s up and ready to go.

Since this is our first session together, I spend a little bit of time introducing myself and what my Present Beyond Measure mission means. I take you on a trip down memory lane on exactly who I am, how I got here and what kinds of content I can offer you.

I also go over the general format of the show and what to expect from each episode. Future shows will have a more structured format, and several will include very special guests. If you have ideas for people you’d like me to interview, please leave a comment below!

Relevant information about the episode such as items mentioned during the session and action items will usually appear below, along with a transcript.

Resources and Links Mentioned in This Episode:

Next Steps:

  • If you'd like to submit a chart or slide that's in need of some TLC, contact me so I can take a look!
  • Your homework: check out the resources I mentioned & let’s connect on social media!
  • Please let me know in the comments about questions you'd like answered and experts you want interviewed. I want to make it as useful to you as possible, so the more I know, the better!

If you subscribe to the podcast, you will automatically get every episode for free! All you need is a free podcast app on your phone like Pocket Casts for iOS or Android. To subscribe, please click the button below: Subcribe to Podcast - iTunes

If you liked what you heard, I would love if you could leave me a rating and/or review in iTunes. Ratings and reviews are extremely appreciated and very important in the rankings algorithm. The more ratings, the better chance of fellow practitioners getting to hear this helpful information.

As always, viz responsibly, my friends.


Click here to view the transcript for this episode.


Welcome to the inaugural episode of my new podcast, to Present Beyond Measure Show. This has been months in the making and is definitely the project I've been most excited about since I joined the ranks of other crazy webpreneurs out there as we’re known, we'll see just because  I like to talk a lot!

Today's session is going to be a little different than the norm because I'll be explaining who I am, what I do, how I got here, and most importantly how the show is aiming to benefit you and why you should keep listening in the future.  I know your time is very precious and there are so many amazing podcasts to listen to out there, the number grows every single day. So, I really appreciate your choosing me for your morning commute or your lunch break or what not.

My Origin Story

So, if you haven't heard of me before, my name is Lea Pica and I am the loud and reverent voice behind which is a growing online destination for people who wanted to present data and get their audience  to give a hoot about it. I'm also a digital analytics consultant for Team Demystified which is under Analytics Demystified, and a practitioner of all things digital for over 11 years now, close to 12. And some of my previous lives include managing digital programs for Scholastic, Victoria’s Secret, Ralph Lauren and most recently, Prudential for last seven years. I'm also a wife, and a mother to a gigantic and a hilarious toddler, you'll be hearing about him. I love to cook and dance and sorts of other things, and that's me in a nutshell.

And you might be asking, who the heck is this girl, and what she all about. So, I'm very happy to answer that. Now as a closet Marvel comic fan, I love a good origin story, so here's mine. I'm of Northern Greek descent; in fact, I’m descended from s long line of very cranky curmudgeon-ypeople. My maiden name is Synefakis,which translates to “little cloud”. and that says something about my lineage.

But I love being Greek. I feel very connected with my heritage and one of the defining elements of my family gatherings as a child was a round table of storytelling. All of us would rehash our most hilarious stories, travel, holiday anecdotes and we were just rolling on the floor for hours, and my uncle would encourage me to rehash same story over and over. Heaven gave me the gift of beautiful handmade doll named Thaleia, who is actually the Greek Goddess of storytelling [edit: and comedy]. So that's just to give you an idea of how notorious I am and my family for telling very long-winded but entertaining stories.

But this chapter of my childhood gave me a really valuable lesson in the art of comedy and dramatic pose and effective storytelling, of course.  As a child I had no idea how that would help me in my future career path.

So fast forward to high school, and I was now engaged in a new form of storytelling which was musical theater. I was so sure I was destined for The  Great White Way, and I did every play, every musical. I continued musical theater and opera in college and I was totally procrastinating in picking a major. Except that college theater was kind of a cold shower; I could not believe how good these people were. This was a big pond and they were so committed and I realized, you know, as good as they were, very few of them would realize the career they wanted so badly and you know, frankly I didn’t really want the show life. I didn't want the instability of never knowing when my next role was going to come along. So I just decided it was time to change tack and find something little more practical in career path.

The problem was I had no clue what I wanted to do. I knew I loved using computers and I loved psychology, but back in the early 2000’s there was absolutely no major making use of these skills. So I kinda fumbled my way through information system major and hoped I'd never encounter something like a fundamental signal frequency formula ever again. My fellow majors know exactly what I’m talking about.

And when I graduated, I did a major head scratch as to what exactly I should do from there and I was lucky enough to find a job in a mystical new frontier internet marketing! Internet marketing was the perfect intersection between technology, consumer psychology, and shopping, and I just fell completely in love with all aspects of it. You know, I loved SEO, I love the usability, email database stuff, it was amazing.

But after trying my hand at specializing in a couple of those roles I realized I didn’t want pigeonhole myself into one area and in the execution of that area. I really loved seeing how each of these channels and tactics performed and figuring out ways to make them perform better. And that is when I discovered web analytics.

Man, I was having a field day crunching numbers, data, creating segments. I became a total data junkie and I was absolutely loving it. But some no one actually mentioned to me when I took on this role that one day I have to go to conference room and I have to convince very important people called “stakeholders” to care about and act on my data.

In fact, it was like the whole point of the job and you know, no one actually tells you that when you go into that conference room, what they really thinking is hey you, I don't care about what you do all day. I care that you’re going to show me something that's going to move my business forward.  And I want you to show it to me in a way that I can understand quickly and easily. And in a way that makes me wanna do something about it. Oh by the way, I’m still going to ask you for something that doesn’t matter like hits. But give it to me anyway.

You know, I found that really challenging even though the musical theater background sort of came came in handy with that, it wasn't too easy standing in front of people talking. I was just getting this blank stares like, what is she talking about and just that feeling at the end of the meeting walk out there and after all the hard work  really sink in. And I was really spinning my wheels. You know, my presentations weren’t terrible, but they weren’t really great either, and I was making many mistakes that I know about now and I just kept hitting  walls with where I wanted to go with them.

I began devouring every bit of presentation and data visualization knowledge I could get hands on. And I mean, I threw myself into this head first and I start learning everything gaining all my hands on everything about principles of cognition and how recall works, storytelling strategies, brainstorming processes presentation and design principles, delivery techniques, the whole package nothing was safe from me.

I pored through works of Edward Tufte  who was considered the godfather of data visualization. I read amazing books by Stephen Few, John Medina, Garr Reynolds, Nancy Duarte. I was just totally hooked, and you know, as I was creating my presentation I realize that all of these principles would help me make the most of Prezi,and it did, they should be applied to any presentation scenario, it wasn't just limited to Prezi alone.

And I poured my heart and soul into that presentation. I gave it every bit of ounce of attention getting. storytelling. Every bit of passion, every technique I could think of went  that and you what? It really paid off; this was my experiment of putting all these principles into play and it ended up getting the highest rated session of the day. I had the dean coming up asking me to come back the following year.

I was like, walking in the air, it was an amazing feeling. It was great until I busted my knee that night sleeping in the dorm. I actually didn’t walk in my commencement, I hobbled. But that’s a story for another day. But you know, when I came back home to reality, my eyes were totally opened and I was absolutely determined to bring what I learned to my actual real work.

And one day I came across some really interesting site search data. It was very exciting and yes, I’m allowed to get excited about site search date because I’m a giant data nerd.

And I didn't want this data to fall into what I call the big data black hole. So I decided, you know what when I going to do this again I'm going to put every principle I've learned in presenting this case study around site search.

And lo and behold, it blew my team away and you know, it inspired so much action! They reactivated a dormant site search project, which allowed us to optimize the functionality and ended up reducing our exit rate after search. They gave us more budget to expand our analytics capabilities, started getting invited to meetings earlier, kick off meetings, to help inform projects other than just watch them kind of founder after launch. And you know, not that that has happened every time, but it happened  enough times where I’m convinced this process and this approach really works.

And that was the really the beginning of the path towards my Present Beyond Measure mission.

The Present Beyond Measure Mission is Born

After that I started witnessing a lot of lackluster presentations that had very disappointing results. With a lot of sort of shoulder raised, like, “okay thanks?” And I just did not want that to happen with me and my team anymore. Its funny, its like this old 80's movie where this guy finds these really creepy classes that reveal that the world has been dominated by these hideous aliens disguised as real people. I think it’s called “They Live”or something like that. It’s a classic.

But all of the sudden I was seeing the same mistakes being made over and over ,and I realized that this was a far reaching problem. Especially when I started attending analytics conferences. You know a lot of the content focuses on the “practitioning” of analytics, the technical aspect, getting more accurate data, and how to segment data. But none of it went so far as to talk about what happens you’re in the conference room, in front of these people. How do you get them to care?

And looking at the presentations themselves, I was starting to see how much in need we all were of learning some of these principles. and you know there's no school or course for newly minted analysts starting their career to learn this stuff in a have context that’s relevant to our kind of data. So they're entering this career just totally unprepared and they going to continue the same chain of mistakes because that's what everyone else's doing.

And I wanna help stop that chain. I want to stop that cycle. One of my goals for the next year is to remedy that exact issue, so stay tuned for a little bit of that.

So you know, I had this sort of mission bubbling up inside of me but it had no where to go. And in 2013,it was after my first child I had the opportunity to take this stage at the ForeSeelient Summit. I've been a client of ForeSee for a very long time. I used their survey product for a while and typically, they like to have case studies Typically for any clients' summit they like case studies showcasing how clients leverage their solutions. But I wanted to talk about the mission and I pleaded with them to take a chance on me. And let me talk about how to find that perfect intersection of excellent presentation and data visualization, and how to stop making the same mistakes that we always make.

And they said yes, and I poured every ounce of presentation knowledge I have that fit into a half hour. and I started realizing that a lot of this stuff, these ideas, would probably a little tough for people to hear. Because they've been doing things a certain way for a very long time. This was going to be a game-changing sort of talk and I was totally, totally terrified.

But luckily I didn't need to be; the audience absolutely loved it. I was amazed how much they loved it, and the response that I got was incredible. I was so humbled when they later told me that it was one of the highest scoring sessions of all time of their summit, which I mean they’ve had some tremendous sessions and that was just incredible to hear.

So you know it kinda bolstered me in that this was something, there was really something here. Because of that session the one the only Tim Wilson of Analytics demystified and good friend of Michelle Kiss, also of Demystified they caught wind of this session and asked me to come present at their ACCELERATE client summit later that year.

And now I wasn’t a client, so  they were taking a bit of a chance on me. But once again, it got really great reviews. I got a great response and no one threw any tomatoes and there were no pitch forks, much to my surprise.  And I just fell renewed again and that this was an amazing thing. But back then I had no idea that I could do anything other than that I just come talk about it at summits and continue in my merry way with my own career. Then it came around to emetrics Boston last fall and at this point, I had started to see online business as a business, where people were having careers teaching others online in different capacities through different channels. And I was so fascinated by this, it was like all of the skills I had applied in some way to that

And when I presented in Boston, the response was great again and people started asking do you blog, do you coach? And a lightning bolt hit me like, this is it. Let’s do this. So i decided to dip my toe in the water. You know I picked a couple of clients, doing presentation work, and doing some coaching.

You know personally my favorite kind of presentation is that sort of keynote TED talk style where you really, you have the rapt attention, it’s a big audience, where you’re  feeding off the energy and you know, letting their energy affect you. I think it goes back to my musical theater days, where that comes from.

But of course, that's not vast majority of presentations that people in this industry do. But it's just my personal preference, and one of the services I offer is coaching and design work for people in this field who do presentations in that format. I just found myself so exhilaratedby hearing the people, hearing what people struggle with in terms of getting confidence, and finding their stories and keeping people's attention, I really, all of it really spoked tome. but again the majority of the community I have won't necessarily need that personal one-on-one attention, but I am available for that.

So a few months later, you know, kind of trying to build a small following in such that I was finally ready to take the plunge. I presented at eMetrics San Francisco and I announced that I'd be going my own way, also with the part-time role on Team Demystified, which has been an incredible opportunity to learn and grow.

But you know, it was huge leap for me to leave the stability of my corporate job and I won’t say that entrepreneurship doesn’t have challenges. It certainly does but honestly, I’m having a blast connecting with people like you, looking for help getting your insights and your personal brand recognized at work, inside and outside of work.

If you already know me from my blog or in person, I’m a very transparent person. I’m very honest about everything. I do tend to haul out my soapbox and it occasion of extremely passionate person, but it comes from a place of deep conviction and the desire to just help people, And yes, I get a little zany from time to time. but hopefully it won't stand in the way of me helping you learn and grow.

Why I’m Doing This Podcast

So now I want to talk a little bit about why I'm doing this podcast. I’m going to confess that I’m a huge podcast addict. I discovered them when I was trying to tackle health issues last year. And you know, when I started learning about online business I saw that podcasts were a huge channel for people trying to reach out and connect with their audience.  And I just needed to join the party.

I mean I just absolutely love this medium. It’s a way to produce a more fluid conversation between me and my guests and of course, you. To create dynamic and more on unadulterated content. And it’s just the best way to get to know me and my authentic self, which I hope you like to do. S

So before I go further, I really want to talk about the name of the show. I’m not really great at naming things; I’m creative person but I’m not one of those good namers which is why I could not come up with anything better than Lea Pica for the name of my website. You know, I had tossed around some names with my family like Viz Whisperer, the Slide Sherpa Pimp My Slide was interesting but I was told by some that is intentionally offensive, sorry for that.

You know, I've even changed one of my tag lines to  Primp My Slide,but I realized I have to sit down and do some brainstorming. and you know,line after line of words trying to stick these ideas together (presentation, data visualization, and analytics) suddenly the phrase Present Beyond Measure popped into my brain.

And now, this has several different meanings which is why I love it. If you are an active digital analyst on Twitter, you'll know that our community hashtag is #measure And yes, I'm a digital analyst so this show is catered to digital analysts but really my principles can apply to anyone presenting digital data or just data for that matter. It doesn’t have to be limited to just this field.

And there’s a  sort of double meaning behind “beyond”: if you’re an analyst, the goal is to present better than you've ever have, and this information can span beyond the #measure- sphere. So that’s the idea there.

Now something I really want to convey way at the beginning here is that you are going to have to keep an open mind and heart about what I'm going to be talking about. Many have mentioned about tips about doing things quickly but I'm also going to be discussing bigger picture concepts that my texture presentation philosophy are practice and put it in perspective. Some changes are going to be harder to make than others, and nothing is overnight but by committing to the show, you are committing to travelling the journey to presentation enlightenment, which is a journey and not expecting just a quick fix destination because that's not what it is.

What to Expect in Future Episodes

Alright ,I want to take the next segment to talk about what exactly you'll be able to expect from the Present Beyond Measure show. I'm hoping to publish around every 10-14 days, bi-weekly is the goal.

Each show is going to aim to be around 15-25 minutes long, not too long because I know your time is precious. And it may the longer side of that depending on whether I have a super fun guest.

And it’s just going to be a firehose of practical tips to make your data presentation stand out, and bigger picture, you know, more elevated thought-provoking concepts about shifting your whole philosophy around presenting information.  You know, I’m going to have topics that are going to include how to save time with templates, palettes, keyboard shortcuts, how to manage your nerves, how to brainstorm presentations preparation techniques, design, how to use imagery. All kinds of stuff that goes into this practice.

And in  every episode I'll be closing with random power tip for Excel or PowerPoint, or Tableau, and i'm going to be calling that the Upgrade segment, and I’d love for to you to collect your own updates for, to mention to me for awesome data viz and presentations for the Present Beyond Measure community.

I'm also occasionally going to have some special spontaneous guests. I'm looking for analytics gurus who present frequently in the industry, or people who have been successful presenting information internally in organizations to see what they can offer practitioners and, or just experts in data visualization and presentation.

I'm also going to do video podcasts where i would love for you to send in a slide or chart that you have, and ask me, you know, what would I do with this. Something you’re struggling with something you presented and it just didn’t work. I would love to do online makeovers for these charts and have the community benefit from seeing how I  would tackle that. So be on the lookout for a way to submit any sort of problem child charts and visuals and slides that you're working on.

And you know, my goal is after that every episode you would walk away with totally actionable tips and techniques and that’s going to really set your work apart in your organization's or your next conference.

And just as an FYI, you make occasionally experience an audio bombing from my extremely loud and stubborn Welsh Corgi; his name is Hammy, he has a massive Napoleon complex. He's three times long as he's high,but you would never know from his crazy ear-splitting part. So, just so you know, you've been warned.

The Upgrade Segment

Alright, we've now hit the Upgrade segment; it's the random tip of the day. So did you know that you can save formatted charts as templates in Excel and PowerPoint? You know, one of the most common issues that I hear from people is how long it takes to implement a lot of different formatting changes and clean them up for presentations, and that you have to start from scratch every single time you do it.

So once you make all your formatting changes, just right click on the chart, say save this template, and when you want to apply those settings to new chart you're working on, you just click to activate the chart and that dynamic menu will come up at the top (chart tools) you go to the design ribbon.

In the type group you click change chart type, and then in that dialog box on the left, you'll see templates, and then you just click the template you just saved and it will instantly apply all of your formatting changes.  It’s just been a huge time saver for me,  i came really the difference between that last minute crunch of getting the chart out the door that doesn’t look so great, to making work really well while still saving time.

Final Thoughts & How to Stay Tuned

Alright, that’s all I’ve got for you today, we've come to the end. Thank you so, so much for listening to my very first episode of the Present Beyond Measure show. If you like what you've heard, definitely hop on over to iTunes to subscribe. Please leave a rating and review, I would love that. Ratings and reviews are extremely appreciated and important because they affect the ranking of the show, and I’ll actually be reading out my favorite reviews on future episodes, I want to show you a little love back.

And if you want to review the show notes for this episode, you can visit to review the show notes and you'll find all of the resources I’ve mentioned in the episode today. I would love if you leave me a comment or suggestion on the show page because i want to hear about the challenges you've faced when presenting information, doing data visualizations quickly, anything you like me to talk about here.

Or you can tweet me a question for the show by including my Twitter handle @leapica and including hashtag #PBM as in Present Beyond Measure (or peanut butter mush as I think about it) whatever works for you. Just to make sure that I see it.

Because you know, this podcast is really only as helpful as you help me make it, and I really want to answer your burning questions, so please post a comment, email me, tweet me, whatever.

And don’t forget to sign up for my free e-newsletter where you’ll get access to all of my exclusive tools and templates that will save you a lots of time and help you viz quickly, accurately, and memorably.

So we've arrived at the random quote of the day and I will leave you with a little bit of wisdom from the inimitable Nancy Duarte of Duarte Designs and this is from her book slide:ology: “Never deliver a presentation you wouldn't want sit through.”

Having sat through so many painful presentations and given so many myself, I take this quote to heart very seriously. And if you stay tuned, we will learn exactly how to do it together. I can’t wait to take this journey with you.

Namaste –

Are you ready to Present Beyond Measure? What would you like me to talk to you about?

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