Villain: Why every data presentation needs one

Presenting data is no easy feat. Presenting good data to an audience is even more difficult. With this in mind, it can be tempting to avoid putting any time and effort into making your presentation as compelling as possible by simply delivering the raw statistics. However, a well-crafted villain can create drama, tension and opportunity for conflict resolution all at once.

Your data presentation is only as good as your villain.

Without a villain, your data presentation will likely be boring, uninspired, and forgettable. But with a villain, your data presentation can be exciting, engaging, and memorable.

So why do you need a villain in your data presentation? Here are three reasons:

1. A villain adds conflict.

Conflict is essential to any good story, and the same is true for data presentations. A villain adds conflict by opposing the protagonist (i.e., you or your company) and thereby creating a tension that must be resolved.

2. A villain makes the stakes clear.

In order for your audience to care about your data presentation, they need to understand what’s at stake. A villain helps to make the stakes clear by representing the threat that must be overcome.

3. A villain humanizes your data.

Data can be dry and impersonal, but a villain can help to humanize it by giving it a face and personality. This makes your data more relatable and therefore more interesting and compelling.

How to Create a Villain

Without a villain, your data presentation will be flat and uninteresting. So how do you create a villain? Here are some tips:

1. Make sure your villain has a clear motivation.

What does he or she want to achieve? Why is this goal in conflict with the goals of the protagonist?

2. Give your villain some personality.

Is he or she suave and sophisticated? Or is he or she a bumbling idiot? Either way, make sure your villain stands out from the crowd.

3. Make sure your villain is relevant to the story.

A good villain is someone who poses a genuine threat to the protagonist and the goals he or she is trying to achieve.

4. Make sure your villain is believable.

If your villain is too over-the-top, it will be difficult for your audience to take him or her seriously.

5. Finally, make sure your villain is defeated in the end.

This doesn't mean that he or she has to be killed off; it just means that the goals of the protagonist must ultimately prevail over those of the villain.

3 Villain Examples

Here are a few examples of data presentations that used villains effectively:

1. In this presentation about the housing market, the villain is the bank that forecloses on people's homes.
2. In this presentation about climate change, the villain is the oil company that's polluting the environment.
3. In this presentation about world hunger, the villain is the government that's not doing enough to help those in need.


Having a villain in your data presentation can be helpful for several reasons. First, it can help you to focus on a specific problem that needs to be solved. Second, it can provide motivation for your audience to take action. And third, it can help to create a sense of urgency about the issue at hand. By including a villain in your data presentation, you can increase the impact of your message and get your audience more engaged with what you have to say.

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