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How Christina Stathopoulos Presented Her Way to Data Analytics Stardom

Christina Stathopoulos is Here to Help You Blast Your Analytics Presentation Career into Space

This episode features one of the most sought-after international speakers in the analytics industry today. She also happens to be dominating LinkedIn as a platform for sharing her invaluable wisdom and creating a raving fanbase.

Christina Stathopoulos is an Analytical Consultant at Google who uses data and visualization to help her clients drive decisions about marketing, expansion, and more. She holds adjunct faculty positions at two top universities in Madrid, where she teaches analytics courses for MBA programs.

Alongside her corporate and academic work, Christina is a wildly popular speaker supporting women in STEM and emerging technologies. She is also a staunch proponent for helping  notable women in tech take their rightful place as esteemed industry speakers, a mission I'm obviously 100% in support of!

So basically, Christina is bonafide analytics rockstar using best-in-class data presentation and visualization practices to fuel her meteoric speaking career.

This one was PACKED with insane wisdom, so buckle up!

In This Episode, You’ll Learn…

  • Christina’s unique and winding path towards becoming a world-renowned analytics speaker
  • The profound impact effective data visualization and presentation had on her career
  • The four guiding “maxims” of conversation she uses to deliver every talk
  • Her favorite data visualization tools vs. what she recommends for others
  • An inside look into her rigorous presentation preparation process
  • The simple and ingenious way she presents complex technical information
  • Her invaluable advice on what aspiring women in tech speakers should and should not do
  • Why the analytics industry still has work to do in representing women in tech speakers
  • The surprising advice she would give her past self before her first presentation

People, Blogs, and Resources Mentioned

How to Connect with Christina Stathopoulos:

Where I’m Speaking Next:

  • November 25th, 2020: My free webinar, “4 Keys Every Data Practitioner Needs to Confidently Present Insights and Inspire Action


Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining me. Have some feedback you’d like to share, or a question for Marilee? Leave a note in the comments below, and we’ll get back to you!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the left of the post.

If you liked what you heard, I would love if you could leave me a rating or review in iTunes. Ratings & 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!

And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes to get automatic updates and never miss a show.

Always remember: viz responsibly, my friends.


Lea Signature

Lea  00:01

Happy unhappy turkey week. LeaPica here. Today's guest is setting the analytics and data visualization conference speaking circuit on fire. Stay tuned to find out who's keeping things hot on the present beyond measure show, Episode 61.


Hey, listeners, welcome to the 61st episode of the present beyond measure show, the only podcast at the intersection of presentation, data visualization, storytelling and analytics. This is the place to be if you're ready to make maximum impact and create credibility through thoughtfully presented insights and ideas. And today, you are here either because you have a hankering to learn from one of the most prominent speakers on the analytic circuit and level up your game. Or maybe you just need a distraction from trying to figure out how to do a virtual zoom Thanksgiving dinner with grandma Betsy, not sure how that's gonna go.


So I'm curious, what are you doing, say tomorrow, say around 2pm, Eastern, or 7pm? Eastern for, say, an hour? Well, if the answer is nothing yet, then I have a better answer. I invite you to come join me for a free online training I'm running called for secret keys, every data practitioner needs to confidently present insights and inspire action. That's what we all want, right. So you'll learn some of my most effective most top secret techniques that I use in my data presentations that get me the results I'm looking for every time and I know they can for you too.


The link to sign up is The link for that is going to be on this show notes page as well. So I'd love to meet you in person and share my best stuff with you.


This webinar event is in conjunction with my once a year Black Friday online course sale. So if you haven't made that investment in yourself yet, it's okay. This is the best time of the year to do so because it's the only time I discount it 2020 has had no shortage of uncertainty and financial challenges. So I really hope you'll take advantage of this limited time offer when it comes out. You will need to sign up for my email list or follow me on LinkedIn to hear about it. So be sure to get on that on my podcast page. So as usual, I am very excited for today's guest. I know I know. But in particular, this person is like my professional Soul Sister, we share so many of the same philosophies around presenting and we had a blast dropping all sorts of wisdom, so I won't keep you any longer. As they say back in my homeland of the shore of Jersey. Let's do it.




Lea  04:25

Today's guest is dedicated to the world of data and becoming quite a mover and shaker in it. She is an analytical consultant at Google using data and visualization to help her clients drive decisions about marketing, expansion and more. She holds an adjunct faculty position and a guest lecturer position at two top universities in Madrid, where she teaches analytics courses for MBA programs. alongside her corporate and academic work. She's an international speaker supporting women in STEM and emerging technologies. She also gave the keynote speech at the smart Future World Expo in 2019 in Istanbul, and let me tell you she is rocking a packed virtual speaking schedule in the coming months. She's definitely one to watch. Please help me welcome the latest guest in my superstar women in analytics spotlight. Christina Stathopoulos. Welcome.


Christina  04:22

Thank you so much for having me on. I'm looking forward to it. Me too. So


Lea  04:25

you were referred to me as a person of interest on LinkedIn by our mutual friend Jason Krantz. And I was really blown away by your experience as a speaker, your articulate Enos and your passion for data, which makes you a perfect candidate for the show.


Christina  04:42

Well done. happy to hear.


Lea  04:45

So to begin, everyone loves a great origin story. Tell us how you fell into this wacky wonderful world of data and it sounds like you have kind of an interesting story for us.


Christina  04:57

Yeah, it's a long story. I warn you but I I'm going to try to shorten it. And I have to rewind back in a few years, quite a few years in order to connect the whole story. So I moved abroad to Madrid, Spain back in 2012. As soon as I was finishing my studies, my bachelor's back at NC State, and I literally moved within a month of graduation. And at the start, I was young, I had very little experience, I was in a foreign country, I didn't know the local language. So I had to find a solution ASAP in order to to support myself. And I couldn't get a job in my field yet of statistics. So I ended up finding a niche in the markets. And I started freelancing as a business English consultant. And just for some context, there's a very low level of English in Spain, and especially for businesses that are trying to be president in the in the international scene, they need to work on their English. So I was working with top business executive executives, many of them see levels. And we were working on their business English and their presenting skills. And I ran classes as well, not just one to one, but even for bigger groups. At one point I was I was with the Spanish Air Force. And this was very far from my passion, though, of statistics. So it doesn't matter, though, because it ended up helping me as a communicator, and as a presenter. And I had a lot of personal growth during this this time. But I eventually went on to do my Masters in Business Analytics on big data. And that helped me launch myself back into the field that I'm so passionate about. So with with those years of experience of teaching, and yeah, if teaching, I had many years of teaching and working with business professionals on presentations, and I paired that with, of course, my newly acquired Spanish fluency that was important, and data skills, and eventually experience across SAS Institute, the software company, Nielsen, and now Google. And I put all of this together to the point to get to the point where I am today, being able to deliver presentations, international public speaking, like you've mentioned, I've toured across eight countries now in person, and then more than 20, virtually, climbing during the pandemic. And of course, as well as a thought leader in the field and a higher education professor, but always focus now in analytics. So I think it all ends up coming together, I didn't realize that it would come together so well, but it did.


Lea  07:23

Well, that that is an interesting, winding path, you knew your passion to begin with. You took a few detours that allowed you to acquire teaching skills, but then you will were able to return back to that passion and kind of become a thought leader in that space. So that's really amazing. I love I can hear how much you love what you do.


Christina  07:45

Yeah, absolutely. I'm very happy that it all ended up leading to me leading me to where I am today. That's excellent.


Lea  07:52

So you work with data a little bit, I would ask What do you think? or Why do you think proper data visualization is so important? And when you even say proper data vis What do you mean by that? And why is that important?


Christina  08:08

Yeah, this. So why? Why is proper data visualization so important, and there's a quote that I usually use in in classes. And it goes something like, like, in the past, our biggest our biggest issue, our biggest problem was that we didn't have enough information, we didn't have enough data to understand the world around us. But now the exact opposite is true. We have too much information, too much data. And the problem is finding the value within it. Right? And this is the first first time it's ever happened that it's really completely switched, switched our position. So why is data visualization so important today, because it helps us understand all this, this surfeit of data that we have. So data practitioners, data, communicators are one of the most I would say invaluable professionals in the field because they need to be able to help translate data into real world applications and or business business cases. Mm hmm.


Lea  09:08

Absolutely. Yes, they're really kind of a jack of all trades. In the art and science of data communication, which really taps both sides of the brain, right? You have that left logic, the number crunching, but then you have this softer creative communication side. And the the ones that will really strike strike, well not strike out. But we'll strike a chord with audiences are the ones able to really balance and learn the skills on both sides. So that's interesting. So, you know, for you What's a sign of proper data visualization, whether you're watching a presentation, or you're looking at a visualization on a media site has been no shortage of those this year in 2020. So what stands out to you


Christina  09:59

and why Turns out to me, there's one thing that I always look for in a presentation and I link this back to it comes from, what is it called? Grice's conversational maxims. Okay. And so there, these are four Maxim's they come from linguistics originally, but they can be applied to communication and data visualization in general. And there's four of them. And I translate them into be relevant, be brief, be clear, and be true. be relevant. Be brief, be clear and be true. Whenever I'm giving a presentation, or I'm watching someone give a presentation, I want to make sure that those four Maxim's are followed in their communication of data. Yeah. So for example, just for to look at one of them be brief, Be brief would mean that you are in your slides and the way that you deliver, you are only delivering as much information as is needed to get the point across. You're not, you're not giving too much. You're not presenting these slides that are full of too many numbers or too many words that you can't really understand what's going on. And your slides should be very simple. I mean, you are you are the core of the presentation. So I would always say for me, it's always you need to follow these four, these four Maxim's


Lea  11:17

I love that so much. I see a somewhat similarity with the rubies, three gates, where is it? Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind of similar to that, but the relevance, I think, is 100%? That that's kind of the necessary piece. What do people really need to know? To make decisions to understand? What's the extra that we're including? That's just creating noise for people, but it's something that we think they should know, right? Yeah. Wow. Well, I love them so much. I'm going to have them written somewhere. Keep that in mind.


Christina  11:55

This is like my golden key. Yeah, always follow these four.


Lea  11:59

What's an example? Do you have, you know, an example of something you saw recently, where someone was not using the let's see, the briefness? You know, you said the brief Maxim, where are we not brief enough? Typically?


Christina  12:16

And, well, I would, there's a really good website, I don't know if you are listeners have been there. But if you search for data is ugly, Reddit, on Reddit, this is, if you've heard of it, it's it's like a forum where people can go and share. It's not necessarily speeches, but this is data visualizations, okay, that can come from from presentations and speeches. And for me, it's really a form of entertainment, you get to see these horribly done visualizations. But I think one of the best ways to learn is by learning from mistakes. And as well, people use this forum to comment on what went wrong, and how can we improve it. So I get a lot of bad ones from there. And a lot of them come just from the public, it can be from a weather station, or a government agency, or a school, whatever it may be. But all over the place, you see really badly done visualizations that we need to work on.


Lea  13:11

Well, I would say that's probably ramped up a bit this year, right? I mean, data has taken a very interesting starring role in the events of 2020. And I guess I'm curious, what have you taken away from 2020? on how data is being communicated? Especially in the media? What should people look out for?


Christina  13:31

I love this question. And so I realized the true power of data visualization this year. So we all saw it brought to the spotlight pretty much. And like we've never, never could have imagined and data visualization is now being used to tell the story of COVID. And it's driving our understanding of the pandemic. And, and we've seen it used all over, it's it, I can safely bet that it was probably all over your newsfeed on Facebook, on LinkedIn, all of these dashboards and presentations. All of them tracking the virus spread. Yeah. And, and our understanding of the virus was essentially shaped by this by these public reports. And I think on one side, it's wonderful this year that we saw how important good communication of data is, we saw it brought to the Sprott spotlight. And I personally saw some wonderful visualization visualizations back in March, April. And, and it also helped, it really helps, you know, public organizations that government and medical organizations guide their efforts. But on the other hand, I also realized how careful we need to be because many of these visualizations were created by random public citizens. And some of them went viral, and we have to realize that they could have easily manipulated the numbers or they might not be using a trustworthy source. So it's more on the dark side, but in this sense that we have so much data available And open source tools, they could end up being like a propagator or an engine, a vehicle for fake news as well.


Lea  15:07

Absolutely, you know, I actually made a conscious decision not to participate in creating visualizations using COVID data this year, because I felt that is taking on a tremendous responsibility. And I was able to evaluate no shortage of them and see, you know, but I had questions around what people were sharing. And even if they're not manipulating the numbers, are they manipulating the scales or annotation in a way to drive a particular message home and create bias and this and that, so I 100% agree with those caveats. Was there a particular visualization that stood out that you thought was like, Oh, this is a plus? Love this?


Christina  15:50

Yes, Anna. And I'll say it's not a typical one. Right. I was, I don't know if you will remember it, I believe it was by the New York Times. But they published I believe it was on the front page, when they did the front page covered in names and informations of the first step, I don't remember if it was the first thousand or first 5000 10,000 deaths of Americans of US citizens to the US residents to the virus, you would have to see it physically how they printed it, but it was not a typical visualization, you would you would expect them to do something like a graph, bar chart, whatever it may be. But they didn't, what they did was take all of the information of all of the first victims, they took out a couple of interesting facts about them, like, you know, this was a grandmother to four beautiful children, whatever. They put really tiny writing and just printed them all on the front page. For me, this is a data visualization. But because it had the impact that it should have, it it, it was huge, when it was first published, and I remembered being impacted by it. And I felt like they did just an amazing job going outside of the box. And it had much more impact on me on a personal level. Because these were people these were not numbers. That's right. And I loved it. I loved how they how they did this. And I think it had the right impact in the end.


Lea  17:14

Well, I didn't catch that one. But that sounds really powerful when you are translating these tiny dots of data into the humans that they represent, right? All data is really generated by humans in some way. So it's funny, because in my next episode, I did a year in data review with Allie Torben from the database today podcast. And we reviewed several of the more notable visualizations from the big topics of the year. And the new york times when I profiled where they showed in this scrolling storytelling format of how the virus spread across the world, which it was outstanding. And it was also very, very unique. But it humanized. those data points, they were still moving dots, but in the context of like the city and the train station and move on and, you know, areas throughout the world. So that is really powerful. I


Christina  18:11

think it's very important that we don't lose that human touch that we, especially in this case, something this something of this level, that we remember that it's not just data, but in this case, we're talking about humans.


Lea  18:24

Yes. Wow, that's powerful. Thank you so much for sharing that. You're welcome. So in terms of tools, everyone's obsessed with tools, and they want to know what the experts are using. So what's your go to data visualization tool? And what do you recommend for others who are in it? Yeah,


Christina  18:42

and I might be a bit biased, because I do currently work at Google. Okay. So yeah, disclaimer, I use Data Studio. Okay. It is the the first reporting tool by Google. And it allows for very, very powerful integration with different data sources. And it helps you really bring data to life tell stories, automated dashboards. And a big bonus is that it's very user friendly as well. There's no coding required, it's drag and drop. And it's also free with a Gmail account. So it's very accessible to everyone. That's my personal preference. But I do recognize that there are very powerful, very advanced tools in the market. For more user friendly ones, you have tableau, you have Power BI. So as a user, I think it's important that you study the different options in the market, and you understand their weaknesses and their advantages. And and you make a choice, ultimately, on what you're expecting to get out of this.


Lea  19:40

Okay, awesome. So yes, of course, there's no lack of different kinds of tools that people can use. And I appreciate you, you know, suggesting people try things out. I'm a proponent of the same thing. I am curious, other than just your affiliation. What are some things that you love about Google Data Studio right now is there Different kinds of features or charts that people might not be aware of, you know, because I'm sure a lot of listeners are using it,


Christina  20:07

I would say one of the biggest advantages is, especially if you're working in marketing, because you have very seamless connections to it, particularly the Google ecosystem, of course of Google ads, but you also have connectors to other things within the marketing world. So I think as a marketer, it's very, very powerful. Just because you can have that direct connection, let's say directly to your accounts in Google ads, pulls them in directly, you have access to everything real time, and you can start to play with it. So as a marketer, it's a very, very powerful tool, possibly the most powerful for that, for that sector.


Lea  20:43

That's really good to know. You know, it is hard sometimes to distinguish between what the advantages are of each tool, other than, you know, many of them requiring a paid subscription. And that is one of the advantages of Google products. But I hadn't realized that it was so marketing friendly. So that's really great to know. So right now, what do you think are the opportunities waiting for data practitioners who are going to take the time and effort to learn awesome data, storytelling skills?


Christina  21:14

I think I think the opportunities are endless. And I'll tell you why. Because first of all, our businesses and our world even personally, it's becoming a lot more data driven, we've kind of touched on that the importance of communicating data. And it's due to this data explosion that we're all dealing with. So with so much data out there, and such, such an effort to put importance on it, and to drive decision making with data, I think that the data communicators have a lot of opportunities, and you need to and when you're starting out as a data communicator, it's very important that you start gaining trust, as such as data communicator, as a speaker that people can trust in. And, and, and get into it as much as you can. Because it puts you into the public eye, it helps you get noticed. And since this is like I talked about one of the most invaluable positions as a data communicator, it's a very important role. It can also open a lot of doors for you, if you get put into the public eye. I mean doors as an opportunities down the road, you can meet a lot of people, it's great for networking. So personally speaking for myself, it's opened a lot of doors for me professionally. And it continues to do so the more I get involved in the field.


Lea  22:28

I could not agree more with you. I mean, deciding to take this journey actually took me to this place of actually trying to teach people this because it works so well. So


Christina  22:39

I think you're another great example. I why we should be


Lea  22:43

I appreciate that. Right. And you know, you mentioned trust again, and I think that was one of your Maxim's if I'm not mistaken with what's be true, right. So what's one of the ways that data communicators can engender trust with their audiences.


Christina  23:01

And I would say, you need to one of the first things that you need to do as a speaker. First of all, of course, practicing practice makes perfect. But from that, as you as you practice, also make sure that you stay natural. So do not go up on stage and look like you are scripted. That's one of the worst things you can do as a speaker. So you need to be prepared to look natural to to relay your message naturally. Then another thing that I typically try to do when it's possible, of course, it depends on the situation, but interacting with the audience. So giving them a chance to respond to raise their hand, but somehow make a connection to your audience. So they're not just listening. But at some point, they're also giving feedback, they feel connected to the to the talk,


Lea  23:48

I see. So drawing them in, establishes a kind of rapport and demonstrates an interest that you care about them being a part of the experience rather than just talking at them for a particular amount of time. Do you incorporate questions, especially in you know, more public engagements? Do you incorporate questions or break in the middle of a session to ask the audience questions?


Christina  24:12

I it always depends on the on the talk. So I've been in talks where it's a very big audience, you're in an auditorium, you might have 1000 people. In that case, you're limited, but you can do things like you know, raise your hand if you agree with this, some very basic things. When I have a smaller audience, where I can be more personal with them, then I will include along the way questions, polls, debates, even and I think I at least my my feedback has been that students and attendees Love, love my style of cash classes just because I keep them so dynamic. It's not just me getting up there and lecturing, but I try to bring everybody into the conversation.


Lea  24:52

Oh, that's fantastic. I definitely want to look up more because I'm always learning I'm always looking to improve my own practice. As well, and definitely creating more engagement with the audience is for sure, you know, my biggest growth area. As a speaker, what do you feel right now? is a growth area for you? What are you looking to improve right now?


Christina  25:15

And this is going to be I wouldn't I don't know if I would say it's a necessarily a skill, it's a weak point of mine. And it's a secret. And it's that I, I do not like watching myself or listening to myself speak.


Lea  25:30

Yeah. So that is you are the only one who hates that.


Christina  25:36

No, but I really I know, this is typical, though, but I really do not like it. And I've never actually gone back and watched one of my speeches, or one of my talks, never, I've never been able to get through one. Mm hmm. And I say this is a weak point. Because it's said that you should always go back and watch your talks through and through and find your weak points, find points that you can, that you can improve upon. And if you're not a professional speaker, even for somebody that wants to work on their speaking skills, you can you can give a talk at work or with friends and get people to record you. I even did that when I was in my masters. And, and just get some feedback to see really what you're doing when you're talking in front of a crowd. And this is what this is, my goal is to start making myself watch myself or listen to myself and find those points that I can that I can work on.


Lea  26:28

You know that that's interesting, because in my online course, and workshops, I teach that exact resistance point for so many people. And what I encourage people to do is ask themselves, why they hate to listen to themselves. I'm wondering, are you able to think and share if anything comes up? Is it the sound of your voice, the speed or there's like an imposter syndrome bubbling? That was my big thing. I was like, Who is this person think they know anything?


Christina  27:03

I don't, it's really tough for me to pin it down. I don't like the sound of my voice. But I think that's quite typical as well. And I I just I don't know, I don't know, if actors have this problem as well seeing themselves on screen. It's almost like I feel I don't know, embarrassed or some kind of emotion like that. And I know, I really I'm grimacing, watching myself talk and I can't get through the talk. But I know that this is something that I have to work on. And really everyone should work on if they want to get better.


Lea  27:33

This is 100% true, I had to walk through the same fire because for my first industry keynote, I recorded my session as a way to practice because if I listened to something myself, speak something over and over. I essentially learn it without having to say it out loud. But man, oh man, hearing my low energy level and the weird speech patterns I had, it was very painful. We I had


Christina  28:01

a I had an exercise in one class where we were working on public speaking Yeah. And we had to give a speech. And the other two or three that were listening had to know down how many times we use like a stop word. So and I'm like, and I was so surprised at the end to hear how many I had.


Lea  28:17

I think another thing that you can work on if you're listening to yourself, is do that exercise throughout that whole speech. How many times did you say, um, because if it's a lot, you need to work on it. This is 100%. This is one of the three main speech patterns that I teach people about our stop or filler words hyperspeed and up talk where you end every sentence with a question as if you're asking, you're not saying that's a big one. But one of my favorite killer hacks of this year. And maybe this will help you get over that hump is there is there are two apps on iPhone, they're probably on Android as well. My favorite one is called speaky. O SP k IO and I can post that on the page. It basically acts like a speaking coach for you. it prompts you every day to do some sort of speech or vocal exercise. And it will count your stop words it will find if you're using up talk, it will rate your speed. It is a fantastic way because it will do all the listening on its own. I still do feel there's a lot to be gained from hearing yourself in terms of energy level, and cadence. But that can be a great way for people who are feeling really resistant to that in the beginning.


Christina  29:37

It's a great piece of advice. And I can't believe there's an app for this. But I think there's an app for everything there. Really,


Lea  29:42

there really is when I found out that there's an app to text a picture of your of someone's teeth, of where they have something stuck in their teeth instead of telling them to their face. I thought there really is an app for everything.



Yeah, it seems like it


Lea  30:00

All right, so that this is really good stuff. I love getting to kind of the stuff that we're really working on. Right. So, you know, in terms of actually speaking, how do you prepare for your presentations? Because you and I definitely share a philosophy that preparation is a vital part of this process? Well, yeah,


Christina  30:21

I think it's one of the most important things practice makes perfect. So you should go through many dry runs before you actually give the speech. And in order to prove that you can ask anybody who's given a TED talk, for example, all of those speeches, speakers, they did not get up on that stage the first time and give that talk, they probably run through it 1020 or 30 times before they walked on to the to the TED stage. So that's, first of all that pieces understand that it's not natural people, there's a lot of practice that goes into this. And what do I do when I'm preparing? At least before the before the practice part, putting everything together, it's very important that you're focusing on the story. I don't, obviously, we're talking about data storytelling. So you're not just throwing data pieces, on to some slides, there needs to be a story. And I always make sure that I have a very good flow, trying to connect one message to the next. Trying to also bring stories into it when I can, like I mentioned before, as well, interaction with the with the crowd. So putting together a story is very important. And then practicing it, full runs. And I would say even in front of a mirror, I don't know if you do that too, as a public speaker, but I'm sure you do that, you should get up in front of a mirror and, and speak to yourself and give the entire speech over and over. So I do do that, of course. And I recommend it for February, as well.


Lea  31:50

Agreed. And especially if you're using a slide deck, I always try to go through and see how my slides play out. Because sometimes when you're creating slides, and especially if you don't already have a specific story structure, or framework for your your message, you end up being caught off guard sometimes during the presentation that a transition doesn't feel natural, that you could have built anticipation a certain way by building a proper transition. So I find that running through those slides, while talking at least once helps you really understand how your slides are going to support you in that moment. But also how you're going to move from point to point which shouldn't be Oh, and I include this, this slides here, because and then next. And I think I put this in here, because these are like the



absolute dead.


Christina  32:48

You're touching on a pet peeve for me, you can tell when nobody somebody has has not practiced that flow. Yeah. So that's what helps you when you practice in front of the mirror. And then the other thing that I think practicing in front of the mirror helps you with is that delivery is actually more important than content. So see, look at yourself physically, how are you delivering the content? And are you showing your interest? Do you have energy? Are you showing passion? That's Yeah, for me delivery more important than the actual content?


Lea  33:17

I couldn't agree more. I think if you had two people present the same exact data, and one was sweating and nervous and I have compassion, you know, it's it's a hard job. And the other is confident and like you said engendering trust and all that they're going to feel more confident and one of those people. So it starts with yourself and for me, there's no question that the times I feel nervous or when I don't feel prepared, for sure.


Christina  33:48

Absolutely. So,


Lea  33:50

so glad we're on the same page. And let's take a quick break for a special message courtesy of me. Are you ready to end the year on a higher note than maybe it started and begin making the impact you deserve as a data practitioner, put that at home time to good use and join me for a special end of year run of my data presentation and storytelling boot camp? The only online course that covers the entire process of presenting data during meetings, and is made for data practitioners by an experienced data practitioner. For the final time this year. I'm opening my exclusive guided storyteller virtual cohort coaching program. Whoo, say that five times fast. When you enroll in my Bootcamp, you have the option to apply for a seat in this unique four week accountability program designed to get you through the course material efficiently and overcome your unique challenges with private group coaching with me. There are limited slots available and they will fill up first come first serve. And I'm not sure when I'm running my next cohort. So make this the time that you equip yourself with the presentation and visualization skills that will make you an indispensable data communicator. And if you happen to be a member of the digital analytics Association, you could save an additional 10% on either the self guided course, or the guided coaching program, a savings you won't find anywhere else, visit Lea slash boot camp to learn more and enroll today. Of course, you also work with a lot of data. And I want to focus a little bit on that too, as well. You said that you incorporate a lot of story into your data, what are some of the ways that you allow a story to shine through? Do you have any techniques or something the way that you visually present data that helps story stand out? Or are you using analogies? I would just love to


Christina  35:51

Yeah, that's there's no I wouldn't say I have a necessarily a specific methodology or process that I follow. It's true that I spend a lot of time in preparation for me delivering delivering anything a class a speech, you need to invest a lot of time into it if you want a good product. And so how do I pull stories into it, it really, it matters. The case the what we're actually presenting on. So sometimes, especially if I would I would focus on I give a lot of talks on very complex technical concepts. But it's a wide ranges of audiences. So people with no background or no knowledge of the subject that I'm talking about. So I have to bring this level this this high level technical concepts down to their level, in order to do it, I try to bring stories into the mix. So just telling stories of how it's either being used in the field applications, or even I try a style of like setting a setting the stage for them, putting them into the place of something. So imagine that. And I love that. Yeah, that's one of the the best ways I found if I can find a way to say, imagine that blah, blah, blah, put them in the case, tell the whole story and then connected to how, what does this have to do with that technology that we're talking about?


Lea  37:12

That's really interesting. You're so right, that when you are relating complex concepts to something in the real world, something tangible that people can relate to. And this is great, especially if you're really knowing your audience. That's always really powerful. And that's why I find analogies to be really fun. Like, how can I relate this to cooking or something that's going on in the world or some game people love? You know, those are some great ways, but definitely painting a picture, especially from a customer vantage point, if that's the kind of data you're working with. I love that. Imagine that a person is doing XYZ, that's fantastic.


Christina  37:55

Yeah, it works for me.


Lea  37:57

I love that Well, obviously. So you are obviously a, you know, very prominent woman in tech woman in data, women and analytics. There's a number of words for this awesome movement going on right now. And what I've been noticing is there's been a slow kind of trend in women in tech being headlining conferences. So I'm curious what trends you are seeing in terms of our women getting up on stages and getting to speak.


Christina  38:31

We have a lot of work to do on this point, for sure. And I know you also as a speaker, you know how it is probably but my experience has been that yes, when I go to conferences, I am typically one of very few women on the panel or in the keynote lineup. It's and I've had experience in very many different regions, many countries. So it's not that this is happening in a specific part of the world. But I see it happening all over. Yes. And the only time I do see the opposite, where we have very, very many women on a panel or an event is when we do a women in tech event. But if it's just a generic event, if it's just a generic event, then you have more men than women, and 95% of the time, at least.





Christina  39:21

yes, we have a lot of work to do here. And I lost my train of thought.


Lea  39:31

No worries. No, I think that sums it up that that we have a lot of work to do. And, you know, as a woman in tech, I've had to sort of open my eyes to this as well. We were talking about how I was looking at the breakdown the demographic breakdown of my own show. And I just was always picking people that seem to be prominent in the speaking circuit and I couldn't believe how male dominated that was. So that's why this has been a concerted effort. And it's been amazing. But you know, one thing that I think women speakers can do is, you know, I've been encouraging events coordinators I've worked with to try to balance things out. And I send them to my women analytics spotlight page for this podcast, which is a great guest for people to choose from. But, you know, I think the more awareness that we create around that, that there are incredible women practitioners and speakers and leaders who should be up there too. Yeah, for sure. One in particular is the women in analytics conference that was supposed to run this year, I was actually I actually gave a workshop. So that's definitely one to watch, for sure, because they have only women speakers, but anyone can join can attend. And I love these, these events. And there's more and more of them going on much actually speaking in one tomorrow for for Indonesia, women in tech event in Indonesia. But I hate that I personally hate that we


Christina  41:02

have to run women in tech events, in order to bring this this female part of the tech world. I mean, I think that all of these tech events should have a fairly balanced speaker lineup. And they don't, and I can't pinpoint exactly what's going on. But I can say that it's on both sides. So it's both, you know, the event organizers not making that extra effort to bring in more diversity. But then on the other side, I have seen workmates, people, friends of mine who as as leading females in the field, have gotten nervous about it and turn down opportunities. So interesting. And I don't know if it's just the cases that I've seen, but I would just recommend for anyone as a senior in the field, a thought leader, a public speaker, and as a female, please don't say no. If you're even if you're worried, a lot of us were don't we don't do this naturally. Fake it. Go with confidence. And you'll shine.


Lea  42:01

Yeah, absolutely. And also reach out to women who are making their way and see how did they get over their own hurdles? What are they overcoming right now? And how can we help each other?


Christina  42:15

And I can imagine, I don't know if it stems from this. But in my experience, when I have walked into, say, like a panel discussion, or even just meetings, work meetings, and you see all of these men in suits, yeah. And I've this in my case, this young blonde girl walks in the room. It is a bit intimidating. Yes, the beginning. And I've also sometimes gotten this reaction at the beginning that What are you doing here? Or are you in the right place? I've been questioned if I was a student, oh, boy, if that I was in the wrong place, when I was actually walking in as a professor


Lea  42:51

of the oh my goodness, someone had egg on their face.


Christina  42:57

So reactions like this are unfortunate. And if you let them get to you, you can, it's not good. So you need to go in with confidence. And even if something like this happens, keep your confidence high. By the end of that class, that meeting that talk, you should have gained their trust. But it's true that sometimes as women, we might have to start on the on the bottom of the hill and work ourselves up.


Lea  43:24

Yep, the path isn't as clearly paved for us. Right. And exactly, one of my previous podcast guests dropped an amazing strategy for I think would work so well with this is to develop a senior advocate relationship within your organization, or in an outside organization that is known for industry influence, and helping them be your cheerleader and essentially, you know, your support system and help you learn where you have to grow. But also just bolster your confidence because sometimes that's tight. It's hard to source from within, but an advocate for you can help pave that path, definitely in meetings as well.


Christina  44:07

And this kind of links to it, but mentors, mentioning an advocate and or a mentor, and, and even just following inspirational women in the field. Mm hmm. So I can I can give a couple of my favorites. Yes, yes. Everyone follow? You've got a Cassie kazakov, which is the chief decision scientist at Google. You might know her. I've heard that. She's amazing. She's wonderful. And then you've got also Allie K. Miller. She does artificial intelligence at Amazon. She's very, very active in the community. And then another one that I like is Kate stretch nia. Hmm, she's for data visualization, specifically. Very nice. All of these examples are very active, for example, on LinkedIn, some of them on Twitter as well. So you can just follow their journey and it can inspire you as well. If you are I you know, just beginning as a woman in the field. Did somebody great to look up to you? Mm hmm.


Lea  45:02

Oh, that that's fantastic advice. And we'll definitely link to all of those wonderful folks. And if someone if a woman is interested in starting to try to break out into industry thought leadership, what advice do you have for women who want to begin speaking and industry events and building buzz?


Christina  45:22

Good. So kind of connecting to what we've talked about before. And I would really emphasize on not saying no, I wish I could say that. There's a there's a, there's a quote, by Richard Branson, and he said, if somebody asks you to do something, say yes. Mm hmm. You don't know how to do it. You can figure it out later. Mm hmm. Something like that. The wording of it. And it's something that I that I love that because I get asked to do think sometimes, and I'm like, Oh, I'm, you know, I don't feel like I can do that. I'm not prepared for this. But just say no, just say yes. Say yes. Don't say no, just say yes. Take the take the opportunity and and go with it. And you can figure out later how to actually do it if you're not 100% prepared. But I think as women we feel a lot of that imposter syndrome. Everybody does, for sure. Um, but it might be more, more prominent in women. Maybe because the way we've been brought up, but you really need to push past that. Because if not, it's going to put a barrier that nobody's gonna pull down for you. You're the only one that can that can walk past that barrier.


Lea  46:35

Wow, that is an amazing quote. The barrier that only you can pull down, that's fantastic.


Christina  46:43



Lea  46:44

Well, if I had to offer some, I would say if you're there's a great post that I can share on this page that kind of sums up all of the different data analytics, even digital marketing, conferences, including virtual that are happening. And a lot of them are going to feature a lot of the same speakers. And some of them might be in your network. So potentially getting introduced to someone organizing one of these events through a trusted friend or connection on LinkedIn. Sometimes that's a fantastic way. My early events definitely came from word of mouth where I spoke at one, they told someone else and then it really snowballed from there.


Christina  47:28

Yeah, so it opens doors that absolutely on stores, I've seen it happen myself. The more events you start speaking in, the more connections you make, and the more events you'll end up getting invited to or, or professional opportunities, research, etc.


Lea  47:43

Absolutely. So much. So. So yeah. What kinds of Do you listen to other data storytelling or presentation podcasts by any chance?


Christina  47:53

Or actually no, I don't listen to podcasts. I do follow. So the the women that I mentioned before in tech, I do follow them. And I'm very active myself on LinkedIn. But I don't I don't listen to any podcasts. I read books.


Lea  48:07

Oh, yes. And I have a we have a question for that at the end. But, you know, since you're one of the last guests that I have on 2020, if you had one message for the data community right now just to send out, you know, close to close the year, what would that be?


Christina  48:26

So my my piece of advice, I would say, and is to look on the bright side of everything. So I myself 2020 has not been a good year for me for many different reasons. And everybody has had their challenges this year. So I would always suggest try to find the good in it.


Lea  48:46

I love that so much. This is going to be a real period of reflection, I think for so many will never go back to the way we did things. And that can be a good thing, in a lot of ways. Right?


Christina  48:58

And I think it's it's something this year, especially but I think in general, we need to not dwell on the past. And we need to do well on our mistakes. And especially we need to not dwell on the year 2020. pick that one up and mail it to Abu Dhabi. Exactly. It's better to just move on and find what was positive in it. What can you get out of this year? And make 2021 year Yeah,


Lea  49:23

what can you bring closure to as well? Right,


Christina  49:26

exactly. Yeah. Yeah, love that.


Lea  49:32

So we have come to a segment called the upgrade. And this is where we'd love for you to share a tool or resource a book. Something that you feel is making your practice awesome and that you think the listeners would love. So what do you got?


Christina  49:48

Okay, so for me, I would recommend some books I recommend too, because I want to do one more database storytelling and then another more general the first book would be For those interested in public speaking or presenting, then check out the book talk like Ted. Oh, Ted, the nine public speaking Secrets of the world's top minds.


Lea  50:10

Yes. I love that one so much.


Christina  50:13

Yes, that one. And then secondly, for a bit more fun inspiration, but focus on the data world in general. Check out the book, everybody lies, oh, big data, new data, and what the internet can tell us about who we really are. This is one of my favorite books of all time, regardless of it being about data. It's just one of my favorites. And it takes a look into what our online behaviors can reveal reveal about the human psyche. Oh, wow, amazing, amazing. And it was actually done by a guy who was doing his PhD thesis on this at the time. Then he wrote a book about it. And the author, it's Seth Stephens Davidowitz. And I like the writing, particularly because I think he does a wonderful job of storytelling throughout. So what he does is twisting a story around every piece of insight that he reveals from the data. Wow.


Lea  51:11

Oh, my gosh, if anyone is listening, my Christmas wish list just went up.


Christina  51:18

You haven't read the book? No,


Lea  51:20

I haven't heard of it for a second. I thought you were talking about love it. Oh, I anything to do with stories in the psyche is pretty much I'll eat for breakfast. I thought you were talking about Stephen fqs recent book around lying in big data. So that's what


Christina  51:37

maybe I need to check.


Lea  51:39

I'll track down the name of that, too.


Christina  51:40

Yes, please. So what about Can I throw this question at you? What's your what would be your book your tool? Your resource? Yeah. Oh, gosh, right. Now,


Lea  51:51

let's see. I'm trying to think what I use most often right now.


Christina  51:54

Mm hmm. Wow,


Lea  51:59

I did not expect that question to be turned around.


Christina  52:05

I got you up. Good.


Lea  52:06

It's okay. It's okay. We'll have a million and I got you back. It's all good. Let me see. What tool Am I using right now? I'm focusing a lot on entrepreneurship right now. That's,


Christina  52:17

that's why.



Yeah, no, yeah, that's



what I'm thinking about.


Lea  52:30

I feel like there's a tool.


Christina  52:35

Now I put you in the place



of, Oh, you're right.


Christina  52:42

I know this is uncomfortable. Okay.


Lea  52:47

Well played well played turning the tables around. So I had to think about it for a second. But actually, there's a tool I'm really loving right now for my private coaching students, where they're kind of I help people kind of look through different data visualizations that they can't seem to crack the code on. So there's a site called a www app. I think that's the name of it. And it's a virtual whiteboard that allows you to very quickly sketch out things and you can put, if I want to make a very quick stacked bar, I can just do a bunch of rectangles and color them differently. And it's amazing, because I can try to talk through my vision for certain things, but it's hard for them to get it until they actually see it and like Oh, I see. So a virtual whiteboard makes it really useful. Because for me, the date of his process starts on a sketch pad. I'm always ideating manually because I don't want to be constrained by technology yet. I want to see if something can blossom that way on paper first, and then I can make it happen digitally. It's


Christina  53:57

it's a really good tip. And is it is it dynamic? Can people different people connect into the same whiteboard at the same time and be working on it together?


Lea  54:04

You can, it is collaborative, too. I use the free version. So I'm not sure how, you know with collaboration as part of a paid plan are not but it is very useful. It has lots of different diagrams. There's the it's very flexible and very fast, which is what I like about it.


Christina  54:20

I think this is super relevant considering that a lot of people are working from home now. Because I remember working with my team would physically have a whiteboard and we would all work on it together. But


Lea  54:29

now you don't have that. That's exactly right. That's why this makes it so easy. And what's great is with shapes you can have chart like structure in there where it's, you should see when I try to sketch a line graph that is hilarious. It looks like a drunk, a drunk 15 year old Crayola deck, but the shapes make it easy.


Christina  54:52

That sounds super useful. Yep,


Lea  54:53

I'll definitely post it. Thanks for asking. Okay, all right. So we have arrived at our final wild Question. So think very hard here and imagine this very plausible scenario. you're browsing the volumes of data design theory at the National Library of Spain, when suddenly you trip and fall into a vortex that pulls you back to the moment you're about to deliver your first presentation. Do you remember what you're presenting about? And what advice do you have for yesterday? You?


Christina  55:28

Okay, so my first presentation, I have very, very scattered memories about being in practically elementary school. I think I was in till it really, I think it was in fifth grade, when we were asked to prepare speech about like the person that we most looked up to, we had to go in front of the class and talk about like a role model. Mm hmm. For me, at the time, it was Christina Aguilera. But


Lea  55:59

no resemblance.


Christina  56:02

Um, but that was one of the that was one of the first speeches, but I don't think that that qualifies. So a more a more a more standard speech. The first one that I remember giving in in college at NC State, I remember was some kind of statistics presentation that we had to give our final, our final results. And I was very, very nervous. It was one of the more the more formal speeches, one of the first that I've ever given. And if I had to go back and give myself a tip, the first one would be about practice makes perfect. I remember I had not practiced enough, which made me even more nervous the day off. So practice makes perfect and never forget that. And then then the other one would be about how we spoke about delivery matters more than content. So I had focused a lot on developing my research paper and pulling the right data and coming to my conclusions, and even the presentation part. But I didn't practice the delivery, how I was going to do it, how it's going to flow between messages, where I was, be on the stage, even because I'm around a lot. We also, it's not good to just stand in one spot. So the delivery, I hadn't worked on it at all. So those would be my two things. The delivery and practice makes perfect.


Lea  57:25

That that couldn't be more spot on. I remember my first keynote, I literally was frozen solid behind the podium. I don't think any body part on myself moved besides my mouth and my eyelids


Christina  57:42

like click to advance,


Lea  57:45

like vise grip. So yeah, a lot of people don't think about that before, like, what's it going to be like actually standing in front of live human beings? It's a very confronting experience. So I think that is excellent advice. Well, Christina, unfortunately, our time has run out. And this was such an enlightening conversation. So please tell the listeners where they can keep up with you. Yeah, of course,


Christina  58:11

I would say Follow me on LinkedIn. It's the platform that I am most active on. And I share loads of content on analytics on women in tech, data visualization, all of those types of subjects. And as well, I encourage everyone to join my book a week challenge. Yeah, I host this on LinkedIn. It's under the hashtag book a week challenge. And it was an initiative that I started a couple years ago. And it's with the intention to encourage others to get off their screens, and pick up good habits like reading books. And in my case, I would say physical books, not digital ones. Oh, you want to get off screen. That's what that's my recommendation. Well, it's okay, though. If you want to do digital books, that's okay. But the original initiative was to try to get us away from the screen design. And I read a book a week, I've been doing it for years, and I share my recommendations with my network. And I try to encourage others as well to share what they're reading. A lot of my a lot of my recommendations are data related, of course, but then you then I have I have novels and more fun, fun books as well. And I encourage my networks to do the same.


Lea  59:24

Okay, how do you get through a book a week?


Christina  59:29

I get asked this almost every week. Um, there's a couple things that I do, but it's not what you would think like speed reading. I don't like speed reading because I feel like I don't enjoy the book. And I don't consume all of the messages that I should, since I read, I would say at a semi normal pace. But what I do do is I make it a habit. So I make sure that I wake up every morning with a book and I go to sleep every night with a book. Ah, okay. Okay. Absolutely. Cannot I can't miss that. But even if it's just five or 10 minutes, I have a busy day or other days, I might wake up and read for a full hour before I get started on work. And then on the weekends, that's when I get a lot of reading done. When I have a bit more free time, then I will sit down literally for a couple hours if I can and just read. So for me, it's picking up the good habit and putting it into your day making it a daily habit, even if it's just 10 minutes a day. Imagine that you read, I don't know, 1010 pages a day, that's 70 pages a week. It's not a full book, but you can you can start getting there. And you can start off with one or two books a month. Yeah, and then work your way up.


Lea  1:00:35

Absolutely. And what I like is that you're attaching it to a habit that already exists in your day, which is something that the author of atomic habits describes a Why have


Christina  1:00:46

 I haven't read it, but it's on my list.


Lea  1:00:50

Oh, you’re gonna love it should be your next challenge. Definitely. Amazing.


Christina  1:00:56

Move it up the list. Yeah.


Lea  1:00:58

So all of the links we talked about today will be on the show notes page for this episode. Christina, I can't even think back to how much knowledge and insight was dropped on this episode. Today. I'm so grateful that you took the time. I'm hoping wishing you you know, a speedy reunion and you know, travel back when that's possible. And I really hope our paths cross again. Yeah, thank


Christina  1:01:22

you so much for inviting me on. And for me, it was also a really, really nice conversation today.


Lea  1:01:29

Wow, that was an exhilarating episode. I hope it was for you too. I just love to see practitioners like Christina become truly impactful thought leaders and subject matter experts in this field, especially when doing that as a woman still poses its challenges. And with all her Sage wisdom, she just dropped hopefully not for long. To catch all of the links to register for resources and everything we talked about, visit the show notes page at Lea slash zero 61. I would love if you could leave me a comment or suggestions. Because I want to hear about the challenges you face when presenting information and ideas.


Don't forget to claim your spot and my four keys data presentation webinar tomorrow at either 2pm or 7pm. Eastern at I promise you, you will walk away with at least one more tool than you had before. That will make you and your insights shine with your stakeholders. And I'll leave you with today's 2020 Big Picture inspiration by melody Beatty.


And that is gratitude turns what we have into enough. My take? Well, considering the roller coaster that is 2020 and still aiming to be for quite a finish. It might seem like a challenging time to cultivate gratitude, especially when we're not able to commune with our loved ones during holidays like Thanksgiving. And I found that gratitude is about so much more than just being able to do what we could do before. It's recognizing that someone somewhere always has less.


And the key to happiness is recognizing the great gifts that we do have. Yes, even the lessons that we learn from our challenges. On behalf of everyone at Lea Pica Productions we are wishing you and your loved ones safe, healthy and nourishing Thanksgiving holiday. whatever shape that takes. That's it for today. Namaste

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