Making data useable is perhaps the biggest challenge for analysts and marketers. Combing through massive amounts of data can be overwhelming, and takes forever, and then it still needs to be interpreted and shared with other people.
Everyone loves a good story, especially if the data is connected to a person. So, storytelling with data must include three things:
If your story only includes data and narrative, it’s missing the visual element to immediately draw your audience in. If you only have data and visuals, you’re missing the emotional connection of the story. If you only have visuals and narrative, you don’t have the solid foundation data gives you.
Analysts don’t often think about how the data is going to be interpreted. There are methods of exploring the data to interpret and create stories:
- Mine for insights
- Quickly discover trends in your data
- Craft unique stories by customer segment
- Discover differentiating characteristics between key segments
- Discover common customer paths
- Identify barriers to conversion
Bringing the Data to Life with Visuals
There are two cognitive processing systems that need to be used when using visuals.
By appealing to System 1 (emotional side) with visuals, your audience will be able to understand data trends faster. You can depict relationships more intuitively with venn diagrams, or highlight key data points with comparisons. To appeal to System 2 (logical side), add depth with tables and graphs.
We hear statistics, but we feel stories.
Approaching the Narrative
There are a number of storytelling methods, but for the purposes of data storytelling, follow these four steps:
- Set-up – Background on the current situation, character(s), and the hook
- Rising Insights – Share findings that reveal deeper insights into the problem or opportunity
- The “Aha” Moment – Present major findings or key insights
- Solution and Next Steps – Share recommendations and discuss next steps
A combination of all three storytelling components will empower your business users to make data-driven decisions through curation and sharing.