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What Is Data Storytelling?

Learn why data storytelling is important and what steps you can follow for a compelling data storytelling process.

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Visier HR Glossary

Data storytelling is the process of using data to convey information in an interesting, compelling, and readily understandable manner. It boosts the odds for the recipients of the information to quickly comprehend the meaning behind the data.

Why is the data story important?

Data storytelling is important because it can improve understanding and ensure that the given data can help one make sound business decisions—in this case, people-related business decisions. Data storytelling further brings data to life so you can reach a broader audience. Without it, important information might be lost, misunderstood, and never used to improve recommendations and decisions.

As Gartner puts it, “data storytelling blends the precision of numbers with the compelling narrative of a shared vision and a powerful call to action.”

What are the three components of data storytelling?

Data storytelling incorporates three core components:

  • Data. The numbers and statistics drawn from a data repository. 

  • The narrative. An explanation of what the data is and what it potentially means. 

  • Visuals. Graphic representations of the data designed to aid in understanding. 

All three are important to tell the full story in a way that resonates with a broad audience. Some prefer to look at the numbers, some to read the narrative, some to reflect on the visuals—and some to take it all in holistically for a complete impact.

What is the data storytelling process?

For maximum effectiveness, the data storytelling process should include these steps:

  • Find the story. Determine what the data is telling you and how you want to convey that message to your audience(s). This becomes the starting point for building your narrative or story.

  • Ensure you fully understand your audience(s). Understanding your audience, what’s important to them, potential questions or objections they might have, and addressing these points can ensure that your message resonates with your audiences while also helping you achieve your goals.

  • Create your narrative. Write a narrative that is clear, succinct, and gets your key points across in a meaningful and readily understandable way.

  • Incorporate visualization. Visual elements like charts, graphs, tables, pictures— even video—can be used to make your data more engaging and easy to understand.

In all cases, incorporating tried-and-true classic storytelling techniques can help you craft a data narrative that has maximum impact. 

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