The Art of Data Storytelling

March 30, 2022

Storytelling is deeply rooted in our evolution as humans. If we take a look around our daily lives, we are surrounded by stories and narratives. You can be listening to your child tell you a funny story about their day at school or be engulfed in the latest episode of Ozark. On the other hand, individuals like Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi used the power of storytelling to inspire change and convey their message across the world.

Nowadays, being effective in today’s modern workplace requires the ability to analyze data and communicate those insights through a storyline if you want to influence your audience and stand out as an A player. 

A large component to what makes a Paid Media Account Manager successful is his or her ability to communicate data-centric  performance to a client who might not have the same experience as them. Analyzing the results from an A/B landing page test or how a new bid strategy was able to scour new search terms to improve conversion volume at an effective CPA and then communicating the results to your clients are some examples of how developing your skill as a data storyteller can help your professional career.

Here are 3 tips to improve your skills as a data storyteller: 

  • Connect with your audience

The first step to data storytelling is to establish a baseline with your audience. You’ll want to know where they are coming from, their experience, their expectations, and ultimately what they care about. Gathering this information will help you frame your conversation in a way that will not only foster the relationship but drive action and progress for both parties.

  • Structure your narrative  

Every good story has 3 key elements: beginning, middle, and end. Instead of just throwing out performance metrics with no background story, create an outline to deliver your insights. First, create context and then back it up with your data analysis so that your audience can appreciate the metrics involved. Finish up the story with a conclusion whether that is a thoughtful decision to be made together, a solution, or next step action item to execute on.

  • Listening is key

Communication is a two way street. In order to reach the desired conclusion, you need to be mindful of the audience’s cues and feedback in order to effectively adapt your narrative in real-time. Make sure you incorporate pauses, welcome questions and feedback, as well as read body language and facial expressions from your audience.

  •  Use concrete language 

In order to help your audience develop a clear understanding of what you’re trying to communicate, avoid vague wording, technical jargon, and unfamiliar acronyms. Focus on providing specific examples and details that will contribute to a sense of clarity and simplicity across the room. 

  • Data Visualization

Memes that go viral on social media are powerful. We can learn from them in order to capture our audience’s attention. Leveraging charts, diagrams, and pictures can support your narrative by delivering your data points in a way that’s much easier to grasp and remember.

At the end of the day, you don’t have to be JK Rowling to tell a great data story or be an effective communicator as a paid media professional. As long as you maintain clarity on the overarching goal and continue to connect with your audience on a human level, you will be able to deliver your strategy and insights in the most impactful way possible.