Most people use data in their jobs but not everyone knows how to communicate and present their insights clearly. Knowing how to tell a data story is critical to ensure people will take action on your findings. Why a story? Our brains are wired to be drawn in and connect to stories so people will remember and take action from them.
There are a couple challenges when it comes to creating these stories:
- Identifying executive priorities is difficult- how do you know what to highlight?
- Clear visualizations are an art- how do you design the right stories?
- Telling an affection data story is essential- how do you deliver the insights?
During our recent Data Storytelling Virtual Summit, Zack Mazzoncini, Founder of Data Story Academy and a Co-Founder of data and analytics firm Decisive Data spoke about how to tell a compelling data story.
Zack gives us three tools to transform confusing data into stories that create clarity and inspire action.
The Blueprint: Find the right data stories
Ask yourself the following questions before even beginning the story.
- What questions will be answered?
- What actions will be taken?
- What results are expected?
The Canvas: Design the right data stories
- Purposeful layout, you should follow the intuitive path and ask yourself where do the eyes lead naturally
- Intuitive visuals, create quick cognitive insights with your visuals
- Color with meaning, choice should be purposeful and draw the eye to important area
- Allow for flexibility, prepare for additional questions
- Simply and eliminate distractions, you should allow audience to focus what matters and eliminate unnecessary distractions like borders or images
- Smart Text, never underestimate the power of concise and clear text to propel a story, this is pivotal to getting the insights across
- Optimize for Sharing, you should understand how the story will be used after the presentation. Do they need it on mobile? Do they want to email it?
The Story: Deliver the insights
- The first 30 seconds matter, studies show we gain or lose the audience in the first 30 seconds, you must do something to grab their attention!
- Bring emotion + passion, show the group why you are interested in this data story, your passion will spread into the room.
- Practice! Presenting and public speaking is hard, practice will alleviate those nerves and result in a better delivery.