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Where Data and Story Meet

[IMAGE: GETTY IMAGES]

Big Data volumes are exploding. More data has been created in the past two years than in the entire previous history of the human race. It is also growing faster than ever before. Telling a compelling story with your data helps you get your point across effectively.

For thousands of years, storytelling has been an integral part of our humanity. Even in our digital age, stories continue to appeal to us just as much as they did to our ancient ancestors. With the rise of digital business and data-driven decision making, data storytelling has become a much-talked-about skill often associated with the Data Science and analytics community. The idea is to connect the dots between sophisticated Data Analyses and decision makers, who may not have the ability to interpret the data.

The need for more data storytellers is only going to increase in the future. With the shift towards more self-service capabilities in analytics and business intelligence, the pool of people generating insights will expand beyond just Analysts and Data Scientists. This new breed of data tools will make it easier for people across business functions to access and explore the data on their own. As a result, we are going to see an unprecedented number of insights being generated within companies than ever before. However, unless we can improve the communication of these insights we will also see a poorer insight-to-value conversion rate. If an insight is not understood and is not compelling, no one will act on it and no change will occur.

 

The Role Of Storytelling

That is where the art of storytelling comes in. Sure, it may be easier to put together a PowerPoint presentation or infographic than craft an exciting narrative, but as any storyteller will tell you, a little extra time and creativity is definitely worth the payoff.

Storytelling is a powerful tool that can mean the difference between extraordinary status and being just another brand. No matter how simple your product may be, if you tell a good story, you will have a greater chance of getting the attention of your targeted customers.

Throughout time, storytelling has proven to be a powerful medium for sharing insights and ideas in a way that is memorable, persuasive, and engaging. And brand storytelling is not a new concept. However, with the explosive growth of social media and content marketing, the opportunities to tell stories as part of direct and indirect brand marketing initiatives have become a strategic priority. A good story will find an audience.

 

Why Data Storytelling Is Essential

Stories are memorable. No matter how compelling your facts are, if you don’t present them in a way that enables an audience to become invested in what you are saying, all the information will be lost on them. An audience who is interested in your story will share it over social media or with friends and family, helping it travel further. A good story will inspire action.

Data provides us with much more of a backstory that we usually realize. Maybe it is because it takes an amazingly trained mind to harvest that data, or to create something visually compelling out of it, but we can do so much more with data than simply draw conclusions.

When we see great data storytelling, we are seeing the realization of great data visualization. We are seeing data that is been analysed well and presented in a way that someone who is never even heard of Data Science can get it.

 

Storytelling Needs The Human Element

Business communication should not be confined to bullet points, simple statements, or rhetorical rants. A dose of the human element, emotions, and branded thinking can result in a memorable message. Stories build messages that people care about and help people bond with messages. In turn, people remember what they care about and why they care about your brand. When you engage listeners in a powerful, entertaining, and informative story, they remember it and many times they ask for more.

 

For some people, crafting a story around the data may seem like an unnecessary, time-consuming effort. They may feel the insights or facts should be sufficient to stand on their own as long as they are reported in a clear manner. Too often data storytelling is interpreted as just visualizing data effectively. However, it is much more than just creating visually appealing data charts. Data storytelling is a structured approach for communicating data insights, and it involves a combination of three key elements: data, visuals and narrative.