what is data storytelling is the ability to convey important information and critical insights using a combination of textual and visual narrative techniques. It’s a powerful way to provide context and deeper understanding around metrics in a report or dashboard, inspire your audience to act, and aid the decision-making process.
Effective data stories rely on a framework of four key elements: engage, explain, enlighten, and change. To effectively engage your audience, start by determining who you’re telling your story for. Then, ensure that your content and visuals are suited to their current level of knowledge and help them reach a specific goal of some kind.
The Power of Data Storytelling: Turning Numbers into Narratives
To explain your data, focus on the key “aha” insights that are most relevant to your audience and clearly communicate why they’re important. Avoid overstating your findings as this can create a sense of distrust and reduce the impact of your story. It’s also important to consider the structure of your narrative. Many people read from left to right, so use a linear narrative format to make it easier for them to follow your story.
Lastly, enlighten your audience with visuals that can show relationships or patterns that might not be obvious without them. This can be done with charts, graphs, and other visuals that will quickly convey your message to your audience and help them see connections they might not have otherwise understood.
The example below from Letterboxd is a great example of how visuals can add an element of depth to a data story that would be difficult to convey with just text alone. This content experience draws the audience into the topic and provides a more meaningful insight into the company’s user base and movie consumption habits.