Data Storytelling : What you can see, but they can’t!

The most basic rule of data storytelling: I must tell the story that only I can see, but they can’t.

Chris is 28 years old and working as a data analyst for an e-commerce company. Everyday, her computer screen is filled with numbers that she analyses. When asked what exactly is her role in the business? Her response is, “I make meaning of the numbers I get from an excel spreadsheet, which I download from our software. After I have the excel spreadsheet I  translate it into an appropriate graph, which I use to report the numbers to my stakeholders.”

Chris’ response is telling. She translates the numbers into a pictorial format and shares what she sees in the graph. What she doesn’t realise is what she sees is exactly what her stakeholders see as well.

So, what is her role in business?

What we fail to recognise is the fact that what we see in a graph, our audience sees it, too. Therefore, to be a great data storyteller, we need to dig deeper to understand why the numbers are the way they are and then tell the story not known to others.

Theoretically, the most basic rule of data storytelling: I must tell the story that only I can see, but they can’t  seems like a common sense  but practically we fail to apply it. Would it be wrong if I said, ” We screenshot our dashboards, stick them in our power points  and tell people what they can see already!”

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