Telling Stories with Data

I had a post last week in my Weekly Article Roundup that read “There is no evidence that anyone has been converted through a pie chart.” I think that phrase really struck a chord with me because I have been doing independent study to get into data science, and as much as I love math and numbers, some of the material tends be dry at times.

With as much data that is generated every second, we have more information stored than what we can currently decipher. That’s why when we do break it down into digestible pieces we need to make sure that we get our message across as clear as possible.

In the well-known article How to Tell a Story with Data, the process is broken down into five steps:

  1. Find the compelling narrative
  2. Think about your audience (are they a notice, a generalist, managerial, expert or executive?)
  3. Be objective and offer balance
  4. Don’t censor
  5. Finally, edit, edit edit

While I definitely agree with this approach, I also think that it should be combined with a more literary train of though. In this Tableau white paper, the  author goes into detail about how one should lay the data out as if they really were writing a story. This means a beginning, middle and end, characters, and how they reached the end of their journey.

I look forward to exploring this topic more in the future as I embark on my own data journey.

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