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A previous post on Powerpoint talked about covering a slide image and seeing what the headline says, then covering the headline and seeing what the image suggests to look for message agreement between the two.

The same approach is valuable in analytical work as well.

If you've created a chart or table, cover it and see what the explanatory text or headline conveys. Then cover the text and ask yourself if the chart backs up your point. Ideally they'll match. Often though, unless you've really pushed the analysis supporting the table/chart, it will show irrelevant or misleading data that compromises or confuses your main point.

Using this technique recently showed that instead of showing a long timeline to depict daily fluctuations, the key point was made much more directly with a stacked bar chart demonstrating a month over month change.

Another twist on the technique is to actually describe aloud the primary message of the analysis as a further check to see if you really agree with and support everything you have on the page!