Welcome to Data Story Time of the Gradienter! Suppose you ask my cousins if I am a good storyteller; they will laugh and tell you to run away because when I was a kid, I used to tell them many stories I read, movies I watched, or even my own stories. The problem was that I would add my imagination, interpretation, or food for thought in between, and they would lose the flow! However, all those skills my cousins detested were the mighty arrows in my quiver when I changed my role to a Data Analyst.
You might have heard that storytelling is a crucial skill for a data analyst but do you know what essential skill is required to be the best data analyst? It’s your experience! That’s why your own story is the best story you could ever say! What you haven’t experienced will always be a story. To be a better data analyst, sharpen your domain knowledge. Otherwise, you will be like a well-trained prince who neither entered a warzone nor have any knowledge of the terrain!
Stakeholders as your audience need information and insights, not reports to hear and forget! The best role we, data analysts, can take is the old man from the fairytale Sleeping Beauty, who recounts the king’s words: within the castle lies a beautiful princess who is doomed to sleep for a hundred years until a prince comes and awakens her. We can help them to find hidden information, show them the path, and sometimes share our wisdom. However, an actual change can only make by them. Set the boundaries and expectations clear from the beginning.
The plot is not the thing that makes a story great but how engaging it is to the audience makes the difference. Data storytellers may have to face the most challenging audience ever! We can expect some exciting plot twists or even the emergence of villains from the audience! However, we must deliver an engaging data story and inspire the audience to take positive actions.
Our first duty is to find a story from the raw data. To simulate a data story, we need to know how tales originated and spread for a long time. Folktales stem from rumors! However, data stories can’t arise from assumptions; they should be valid information with evidence and must be created from thoroughly cleaned and analyzed, accurate, and complete data.
The second step is the narration. A storyline or a written or verbal narrative is your arrow to shoot the insights garnered from data, the context surrounding it, and inspirations or recommended actions you aim at your audience. Your audience is not Shakespeare’s audience. Avoid jargon.
The last but not least step is Visualization! We aim to make the audience remember the facts as much as possible and let them feel their role in making the happy ever after ending! We need charts, graphs, diagrams, pictures, or videos for this. Use your visualization tools wisely to create impactful images of your data story!
As I mentioned, experience gives your story a life of its own. Take your time to be a great data storyteller. Until then, be a great listener! Either way, I wish you all a happy Storytime 🙂