Carnegie Mellon University

Communicating Complexity: Telling Stories with Data

Communicate complex and data-heavy information in a way that is clear and actionable.

May 25-26, 2023 | online | 2 TEUs | $1,500

Communicating complex information concisely, credibly, and convincingly – it’s a skill you need to lead organizational change in a time when decision makers face information surplus, skepticism, and the pressure to navigate uncertainty while responding to crisis. Having the ability to quickly distill technical information for non-expert audiences enhances the value that you can add to your organization. Knowing how to facilitate comprehension of complex or data-heavy content without oversimplifying is a key indicator of your ability to win buy-in and achieve results. Let the experts at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business – acknowledged innovators working at the intersection of business, technology, and analytics – help you to develop this skillset and become the change agent you aspire to be.

During this interactive workshop, you’ll learn evidence-based, practical strategies for communicating complex technical information clearly and compellingly, without sacrificing substance. You’ll leave with tools that you can immediately use to facilitate the entire communication process including: awareness of your audience’s perceptions, methods for extracting and conveying key takeaway ideas, tips for enhancing the value of your visuals, and strategies for using the power of words to engage, enlighten, and motivate executive stakeholders. Throughout the course, you’ll hone your skills in a risk-free environment, where you can comfortably practice and gain actionable feedback.

Key Takeaways

  • Raise your awareness of common barriers to communicating technical information and use enhanced self-awareness to adapt your communication strategy with ease.
  • Integrate calculated methods to extract the core ideas of technical messages and craft them into compelling narratives.
  • Harness the power of language – story, analogy, metaphor – to bridge the gap between what you know and what your audience needs to understand.
  • Strengthen your ability to design visuals that support audience comprehension and facilitate decision-making.
  • Leverage the entire range of your communication skill set to meet nonexpert decision makers where they are and relate technical information with clarity, credibility, and passion.

Who should attend?

This program is designed for leaders interested in driving organizational vision and strategy by effectively communicating complex, technical information in the corporate, public sector, entrepreneurial, academic, or nonprofit environments.

Program Schedule

Day 1 - Meet the Complexity Challenge

  • Develop understanding of why it’s so hard to communicate about our own areas of expertise – the very things we know best.
  • Practice using on-the-spot methods for mitigating the challenges of communicating complexity.
  • Heighten your ability to anticipate audience expectations and assess engagement and comprehension.

Day 1 - Distill the Essence

  • Learn how to avoid information dumping by effectively bridging the gap between what you know and what your audience knows.
  • Apply evidence-based strategies for locating and extracting the information that is most essential for your audience to hear. 
  • Discover how to sequence ideas to create a compelling narrative.

Day 1 - Leverage the Power of Language

  • Implement powerful rhetorical tools to create a universal language that anchors your message.
  • Understand when to avoid jargon, when to use stories, and how to incorporate meaningful analogies to translate your most complex information into concrete, relatable, succinct, and actionable ideas.

Day 2 - Maximize the Impact of Visuals

  • Elevate the impact of your verbal messaging by designing visuals that strengthen your narrative.
  • Learn how to communicate visually in ways that engage, inspire, and persuade. 
  • Design visuals that not only facilitate understanding, but support listeners’ ability to fully engage in the decision-making process.

Day 2 - Apply the Principles of Effective Communication

  • Synthesize best communication practices to reflect and self-correct, assess your audience’s needs and motivations, crystallize key takeaways, craft compelling verbal and visual narratives, and solicit actionable feedback.
  • Harness the power of words to communicate technical information with ease and motivate decision makers to act.

Earn the Carnegie Mellon Certificate in Executive Leadership

Participate in three executive education open enrollment programs in five years to earn Carnegie Mellon’s highest certificate designation for executive education.


Contact Executive Education at Carnegie Mellon

Contact a program director at 412-268-2304 or to learn more.