Communicating Data & The Rise of the Empirical Storyteller

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I recently penned an article which was published on Campaign about the role of storytelling when it comes to data and analytics. The core message of the piece is that statistics are often not enough to convince a boardroom full of people to believe in and pursue a particular course of action. Data, no matter how objective it is in reflecting a truth, is only one piece of the puzzle as you need to consider how to effectively communicate what the data means. Storytelling is the key to getting your ideas to resonate and is a focus that hasn't been thoroughly explored yet in the analytics industry. 

The tools, technology and infrastructure domains that support and enable the field of analytics have evolved significantly over the years. But what seems to be missing from the conversation around successful applications of data and analytics is communication. We need to think about a new bread of analyst. For businesses to succeed with data they need to be looking for people who are number crunchers, but who also speak a range of business and technology languages. They need to look for people who can roll there sleeves up and dive deep into data, but who are also great communicators. They need empirical storytellers.

Here's a short excerpt from the article:

"When it comes to data driven decision-making organizations don’t need data, they need insight. Data is simply a means to an end. It’s the raw, unrefined material that you use to obtain insight which has business value. But insight alone often isn’t enough to convince a boardroom or stakeholder; you need to consider how to communicate the insight to your audience, and the best way to do this is through a great story. This is something I’ve witnessed time and time again, where a killer insight, which has the potential to transform the business, falls flat because of poor presentation.

In the past, industry practitioners have loosely referred to people who use data to communicate a point of view or course of action in business as data storytellers. I find this moniker somewhat lacking as it doesn’t quite capture the full range of skills needed to be an effective storyteller in the field of digital analytics. As such, I prefer to refer to these analytical superstars as Empirical Storytellers. For me, empirical storytelling effectively captures the intersection at which the art of eliciting an emotional response meets the science of analytics."

You can read the full article here, which also offers some insight into the soft skills that empirical storytellers possess, as well as process they use for turning data into a great story. Enjoy