Insights · 3 min read

Empowering your business with data storytelling

Jordan Morrow
Posted May 24, 2024
Empowering your business with data storytelling

Welcome to the fourth post in our blog series on the world of data and AI! In our previous posts, we explored the importance of data and AI literacy, discussed strategies for improving these skills, and examined the transformative power of data and AI-driven decision-making. Now, we turn our attention to a topic that bridges the gap between data, analytics, AI, and business: data storytelling.

Communication is the secret sauce of data and analytical work. Why is that? Let's explore.

Why storytelling matters in data analytics

Storytelling is a timeless and universal way of communicating information, ideas, and emotions. How many people have gone to school for a degree in data, analytics, and AI? How many people understand the technical jargon inside and out? Storytelling brings these concepts to life! Whether through spoken word in a presentation or 1:1 meeting, written text in emails or messaging tools, or data visualizations, storytelling can captivate our attention and drive change. In the context of data, storytelling serves as a bridge between the data and the business, transforming complex information into narratives that resonate with audiences.

Building blocks of compelling data narratives

Compelling data storytelling involves more than just presenting charts and graphs—it requires a thoughtful approach to crafting narratives that engage, inform, and inspire. Here are some key elements to consider:

  • Context: Provide background information to help your audience understand the significance of the data and its relevance to the business or objective you are looking to achieve.

  • Audience: Introduce the people or entities involved in the data story, humanizing the narrative and adding depth to the analysis.

  • Call to Action: Offer insights or solutions derived from the data analysis, guiding your audience towards a more profound understanding or a specific action.

Data storytelling in action

To illustrate the power of data storytelling, let's look at some real-world examples:

  • Data Journalism: Media outlets like The New York Times and The Guardian use data visualization techniques to tell stories about everything from climate change to election results, making complex issues accessible to a broad audience.

  • Business Insights: Companies leverage data storytelling to communicate key metrics, trends, and performance indicators to stakeholders, informing strategic decision-making and driving business growth.

  • Public Health Campaigns: Health organizations use data-driven narratives to raise awareness about public health issues, such as the spread of infectious diseases or the impact of lifestyle choices on overall well-being.

Tips for effective data storytelling

  • Know your audience: Understand who you are speaking to. Tailor your storytelling approach to the interests, needs, and preferences of your audience.

  • Keep it simple: Avoid jargon and technical language, focusing instead on clear, concise messaging that is easy to understand. Nobody enjoys reading novels in emails or enduring long, drawn-out presentations.

  • Use visuals: Incorporate charts, graphs, and other visual elements to enhance your storytelling and make the data more accessible. Visuals can simplify complex data and make it more understandable.

  • Practice empathy: Consider your audience's perspectives and experiences, and strive to create narratives that resonate with their emotions and values.

Conclusion

Data storytelling is a powerful tool for bridging the gap between data and business. It can drive understanding and change, unlocking the potential of data and AI to inform, educate, and empower individuals and organizations. Embrace data storytelling and think about how you can improve in this space.

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Author
Jordan MorrowData & AI Expert

About the author

Jordan Morrow is known as the "Godfather of Data Literacy," having helped pioneer the field by building one of the world's first data literacy programs and driving thought leadership. He is also the founder and CEO of Bodhi Data and currently is the Senior Vice President of Data & AI Transformation for AgileOne. Jordan is a global trailblazer in the world of data literacy and enjoys his time traveling the world, speaking, and/or helping companies. He served as the Chair of the Advisory Board for The Data Literacy Project, has spoken at numerous conferences around the world, and is an active voice in the data and analytics community. He has also helped companies and organizations around the world, including the United Nations, build and understand data literacy.

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