Practical data storytelling tip #1

Our education system works against our ability to data story tell.

We teach two main subjects in school, language and maths. With language, we learn to tell stories. With maths, we learn to use numbers. But we don’t ever learn how to tell a story with numbers. That is the reason why data storytelling can be a difficult for many of us.

However, like any other discipline there is a practical and logical way to learn Data Storytelling. Recently, I have worked with many professionals who are required to data story tell. I have decoded some practical ways to data story tell effectively and my new blog series Practical Tips on Data Storytelling is my attempt to share these practical tips with my blog readers.

I will be writing 1 practical tip on Data Storytelling each week for the next 10 Weeks.

My focus in writing these tips is not just on data visualisation but also on how you can effectively orally deliver the key findings from your data.

So, lets get started.

Data Storytelling Tip #1

What is the point you are trying to make? 

Irrespective of whether you are presenting or emailing a data finding.The point you are trying to make should always come first.

Let’s take a look at this graph as an example

Data Storytelling


Look at the header of this graph, Support for education non – profits has decreased markedly over the past 5 years is the header. This header instantly conveys the point we are trying to make via this data.

The header should always convey the point you are trying to make. The rule I apply here is, if I was not presenting this graph, would the reader be able to look at it and straight away know the point I am trying to make? If the answer is yes. I am on the right track.



Now, if I had to present this graph. I would start by saying something like this

“Support for education non – profits has decreased markedly over the past 5 years. Let us try and understand what data we have that supports our finding. 

What are the key takeaway?

The key takeaways are

1. The point your are trying to covey via the data should be the header of your visual

2. The point you are trying to convey via the data should be the first thing you say when you present.

Source : The graph is from Storytelling with Data by Cole Nassbaumer Knaflic


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