Why you should start telling ‘data stories’

Responsible smart customization can only be achieved if you understand the context.

To turn data into ‘information’ you need to take it on a rigorous journey of analyzing, validating, hypothesis testing …repeat…until you understand it and know what it ‘says’ — only then will you be able to craft a creative but sound data story.

Eliminate the noise through lifting out the points that are most relevant without risking the soundness of your results.

Good practice will be to always keep your details close by and easily accessible in case you need more information to unpack or explain — but not to have everything up there creating a distraction.

The term ‘effective visuals’ simply means that everything you choose to include in your mode of delivery must have a purpose.

Nothing should be on a page just ‘for the sake of it’, but should be there with a well thought through and intended purpose.

Anything else, is just a distraction.

‘Effective visuals’ is not just graphs, but also includes pictures, words, font types, colors, page sizes…any visual tool that will help you tell a story.

Compelling narrative — A compelling narrative brings visuals alive, it engages and explains; and finally creates the aha moment.

It’s here where business context comes in handy, because you will be able to intelligently interpret the information and share actionable insights that speaks to your audience.

Finally, think of crafting a data story as somewhat a similar process to creating a movie.

There are multiple scenes and storylines, you would do multiple shots, but then you will rigorously edit and cut and redo until you have crafted something compelling that would make people want to come and watch, without feeling that they are missing out on something.

The best, most compelling pieces are chosen to be shown in the cinema…but if the audience want to, they can always go online or buy the DVD to view some of the scenes that did not make the movie.

There is no recipe for data storytelling, and everyone has their own unique way of making data and graphs come alive, but by considering above points, you are well on your way to becoming a strategic data storyteller.

Keep on asking yourself — What is the essence of what the data is saying, and how can I use context, visuals and narrative to make it clear as day to my audience?Stephanie Visser is a specialist in Data Analytics at Pramerica.

She says that although education gave her an appreciation for all things data and statistics, her experience showed her that data and the statistics derived from it means nothing to business without context and proper interpretation.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views or opinions of Prudential.

Prudential is not responsible, endorses or confirms its accuracy.

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Unless noted otherwise in this article, Prudential is not affiliated with nor it endorses any mentioned company or any linked third party content.

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