The Power of Data visualization and Storytelling with Data

June 28, 2022

When we think of data analysis, we think of numbers, spreadsheets, and insights, but does data analysis end with just finding insights? Well, the answer is ”No”. What if I say there is an even harder task than the current method of simply finding insights – it is referred to as the “Visualization and Communication”.

Often in school we listen to stories which consist of letters, words and sentences put together and delivered to us, but has your math teacher taught those tedious algebraic calculations in the form of a story? Probably note No one has ever taught us how to tell stories with numbers. This leaves us poorly prepared to deliver those crucial data insights.

Well currently if you’re thinking that anyone can put some data into graphs and charts and communicate the insights that they have analyzed by just showing those graphs, then let me tell you it is no longer as effortless as we think. Storytelling with Data is an Art, and it takes a lot of exercise to master this art.

There are 3 pillars to Storytelling with Data:

Data: This is like your foundation that’ll support your story. The hard work of collecting, preparing, cleaning, analyzing and findings comes under this one component.

Storyline: This is the context around your analysis and your findings. What happened in the past, what is happening and what actions to be taken in the future everything is included here.

Visualization: The pie charts, graphs, heatmaps that you will be using to pass your message to the viewers.

In this Blog, I will give you initial steps on how you can improve at storytelling with data.

  1. Understand the context: Before anything you should first think, “who is your audience? Who are you going to deliver this story to? Do they like details or overview? What would they like to know from this story? etc.”

  2. Select Appropriate Visuals: This is a whole new chapter in itself. There are so many do’s and don’ts to this that I will save the details for later. But to give you an overview, use the right kind of visual for every insight. For example, if you want to communicate sales for the past few years, use line charts, so that a viewer can see ups and downs of the trend line. Keep it simple. Avoid using fancy visuals like 3D charts.

  3. Avoid clutter: Nobody likes a room filled with too many things. We all like open, clean and clutter free space. Similarly with visuals, avoid having too many graphs and charts in one view can look like a cramped-up space. The idea is less is more.

  4. Capture your audiences’ attention: Get your audiences’ attention to where you want them to focus. Think of it like this, when you open your laptop where do your eyes fall first? Is it to the center of the screen or to the left where your icons are? Or when you open Google chrome, does the search bar capture your attention first or the big, bold, colorful GOOGLE Logo. It is all about the pre-attentive attributes like size, color, and position.

  5. Time to tell your story: A story always has a clear beginning, middle and end. Your story should always start with the background and end with what you want your audience to do with this story. Just like our marketing strategy we have a call to action before every conversion, we need to have a call to action to ensure that our story is sold.

I hope this blog gave you an overview of what are the attributes and the steps involved in mastering the art of storytelling with data.