Presentation and Dissemination Symposium 2016


The GSS Presentation and Dissemination Committee (PDC) hosted its fourth annual symposium in London on Tuesday 17 May. Over 150 GSS delegates attended, including the National Statistician, John Pullinger and it was a wonderful opportunity to showcase the great work going on across the GSS. Individual departments recounted their successes and challenges in the fields of social media, geodata, data journalism, open data, data visualisation and engaging with audiences. Delegates were motivated by some of the challenges laid down by the key note speakers Ed Humpherson, Sir David Spiegelhalter, Christopher Cook and Will Moy and there was an opportunity to pose questions directly to John Pullinger in an interactive ‘Ask the National Statistician’ session.

Julie Brown, Chair of PDC, said “The symposium was an excellent opportunity to showcase the best in presentation and dissemination from across the GSS and there was much to share and celebrate. Our key note speakers were engaging but challenging and gave us lots to take away to reflect on. In particular I think there is more we can do to explain to users how to interpret our statistics  – for example could we add short descriptions/headlines on the front page of our publications explaining what can and cannot be concluded from the statistics? ”

Julie went on to say, “There is a huge amount of exciting work going on across the GSS and with each department currently setting out their presentation and dissemination goals for the coming year I’d encourage everyone to speak to their PDC rep and/or Head of Profession to see how they can get involved.” So please remember, If you have made or want to make improvements to your statistical products – for example by clarifying and simplifying the messages you deliver to your different audiences –  the GSS Good Practice Team and GSS presentation champions  would also love to hear from you


Below we have published the presentations, thank you to all of the speakers and all of those who supplied these for publication. You need to be a member and logged in to see the presentations.

J JenkinsJamie Jenkins (chair of the GSS Presentation and Disseminate Symposium organising committee) provides his reflections on the event…

“Last week (17th May) saw around 170 statisticians and analysts from across Government convene in London for the 3rd annual GSS Presentation and Dissemination symposium and I had the challenging task of organising the day and speakers.

Good analysis is pointless if messages are not presented effectively or disseminated to those with influence and when picking the speakers for the day I wanted them to challenge us on doing things better.

First up was the Rt Hon. Lord David Willettswho offered great insights into his time as a minister. He was supportive of the idea of ONS having access to all admin data and said it was important to offer more timely policy insights rather than wait what could be years at times for survey data. Data was “on the cusp of transformation’ and we had to embrace this.

Following David we had another David but this time it was Sir David Spiegelhalter who is well known for giving entertaining talks. He gave examples of how to communicate uncertainty and there were a few areas where ONS could do better, in particular the presentation of unemployment statistics. One thing though we are certainty not as bad as Fox News with Pie Charts!

Completing the keynote speaker line up was Chris Cook from the BBC who started off by thanking us for fixing the ONS website although was described as an “act of war” as it was virtually impossible to do his job using the website.

The afternoon saw Martin Ralphs from the GSS Good Practice Team take to the stage and he showed off some great examples of improvements that had been made across the GSS. Ed Humpherson then challenged us to remember that presentation is only part of what we do and not to neglect the other aspects of production and Will Moy from Full Fact gave an inspiring speech on how he has seen the GSS improve but there were many more stages to go. The day finished off with myself doing a Q&A session with John Pullinger in which he said there was no point having data after a decision is made – we need to be quicker and smarter.

Throughout the day there were several break out sessions covering areas such as journalism, visualisation, social media, geodata, opendata and the Code of Practice in what proved to be insightful and inspiring to the current and next generation of statistical leaders.

I certainty learnt a lot and hopefully those who came along did too”.