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How Does Data Storytelling Work, Exactly?

Publication date: 2 February 2022

Data is very powerful. It can show companies what strategies are working or not, help them uncover important trends, and even reveal surprising truths. 

However, to get the full picture, it is necessary to dig deep into the data, extract important insights, and create a story around that — especially when presenting your report to stakeholders or other data workers.

Turning data into a story (aka data storytelling) is valuable, as it helps connect with the reader, communicate important facts more efficiently, and make the report more memorable.

In this article, we explain what data storytelling is, how it works, and how it helps better display your data to your audience.

What is Data Storytelling?

We use the phrase “data storytelling” to represent the entire process of obtaining data, extracting insights, and converting those findings into a story when presenting the data report.

If a compelling story is built around and anchored by facts, it can directly influence decision-making, highlight an interesting trend, or give your audience useful information.

Data storytelling uses text, images, videos, or interactive graphs to do so.

It is a way for data workers to present reports in an interesting and memorable way — in other words, by turning it into a story.

a man in yellow shirt
Photo by Mikael Blomkvist on

How Does Data Storytelling Work?

When writing a story, writers always implement characters, location, conflict, and resolution to make it captivating. The same should be done for data storytelling.

Who are the story’s characters? When you present your report, keep in mind the characters of your story. Make sure to define the key players in advance, whether it is your customers, stakeholders, or your internal team. You don’t necessarily have to include this in your report, but do keep it in mind.

Where is the story happening? You want to make sure to set the scene and describe the “location” of your data. For example, your setting can reflect a recent drop in sales. Data visualization can help you show the decline across audience types and highlight the largest decrease.

Where/what is the conflict? Proceed to the conflict – the root issue that happened in a particular location – and that is the topic of your data story. Then, propose your solution. Use visualizations to present how you would resolve the conflict.

Direct to a course of action. If your data story doesn’t have any conflicts — for example, if the data showed that your current marketing effort was driving traffic and exceeding your goal — you can skip that step and move directly to proposing that the present course of action be continued.

So, now that you know how to craft a story around your data, let’s explore the reasons why you should do it in the first place.

The Benefits of Data Storytelling

Data storytelling is more than just making your report more interesting – it also has tangible benefits for your company.

1. Data storytelling provides meaning and value.

Reports usually consist of plain numbers. This may leave your audience wondering, “Why do I need this information?” Data storytelling assigns meaning to data and helps the audience connect the dots.

2. Data storytelling helps your message stick.

Data storytelling will increase comprehension and retention of the information presented. By combining storytelling with visualization, you appeal to both the analytical and emotional sides of the brain, solidifying the information in the reader’s mind.

3. Data storytelling is versatile.

The information obtained from data stories can be presented in a variety of ways. From articles and whitepapers to case studies and reports, you can use data visualization to enrich all types of your content.

Sounds interesting? Create story-worth moments inside your data with TRUECHART. 

Enable data visualization with the globally renowned IBCS® standards, making reports super-easy to understand and helping you craft your data stories better and faster. 

Reporting? Let’s make it easier, simpler, and faster. Book your TRUECHART demo today.

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