The Surprising Connection between Storytelling and Data Science
Data science and storytelling are two seemingly unrelated fields, yet they share a crucial connection. Consider this: a project manager named Esther was addicted to spreadsheets, but failed to understand a central issue. Raw data is complex and difficult to comprehend without context, which is where storytelling comes in.
Storytelling is a powerful tool that helps people absorb information by creating connections in their brains. We all think and see through stories, regardless of profession or industry. In client-facing roles, storytelling can help move away from misconceptions and cognitive biases like the “curse of knowledge”.
When creating data presentations, it's important to understand your audience's age, digital literacy, interests, and role within your project. Set the scene by providing context for time, space, and situation, and highlight where the conflict lies. Explain the problem, who is affected by it, and how it affects them.
To delight your audience with data, use visuals, visuals, visuals. Show your data in a way that is easy to understand and touches on the main pain points you highlighted during the conflict phase. There are many online tools available, such as Miro, Canva, PowerPoint, PowerBI, Juicebox, RAWGraphics, and Pitch. Even Excel can be used to create graphics, as long as they are properly labelled and make sense within your story.
Finally, wrap up your data presentation by playing back the key takeaways, which is the moral of the story. This is where storytelling truly shines. Imagine data is a set of various coloured threads, visuals are the pieces of fabric created with those threads, and storytelling is the weave that puts all those pieces together to create a warm, meaningful, useful, and beautiful blanket.
By learning from marketers, screenwriters, fiction writers, and performance artists, we can add purpose to the data we are sharing. Make it relevant by explaining why it matters and how it affects your audience emotionally and rationally. Remember, the purpose of storytelling is to make people feel curious and anxiously wait for more.
Our take at Radically Digital
At RAD, we are constantly working towards the best ways to delight our clients. As consultants, we love to dive deep into the problems our clients present to us, but it’s also part of our culture. Through storytelling, we are able to provide meaningful insights that help our clients make more informed decisions.
In conclusion, storytelling is a crucial part of data science. By using storytelling to create context and meaning for raw data, we can better engage our audience and help them understand the information we are presenting. So the next time you're creating a data presentation, think about the story you want to tell.