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The Importance of Story Telling in Data Analytics Featured

The Importance of Story Telling in Data Analytics Natasha Brazil

The most successful data analysts are able to take key data and weave it into a story to convey their point to stakeholders. This is often called a “data story” and is used by analysts who are presenting to an audience who may not understand the intricacies of data. They do this by presenting their findings visually – which is easier for most people to comprehend.  Often time this is through graphs, charts, or other visualization tools like infographics. But is a data story really that important in the world of statistics?

The short answer is “yes.” “Data storytelling gives anyone, regardless of level or skill set, the ability to understand and use data in their jobs every single day,” explains Anna Walsh in a blog post by Narrative Science. A data analyst is able to glance at data and understand critical findings. A stakeholder on the other hand may struggle to find trends in a series of numbers and statistics. The data story bridges the gap between an analyst and to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to predicting trends and correlating facts and findings.

What’s even more important is the way a data story connects different team members allowing them to understand the same information quickly in order to make important decisions. “By providing insights in a way that anyone can understand, in language, data storytelling gives your team what they want—the ability to get the story about what matters to them in seconds,” Walsh notes. It’s no secret that everyone learns differently – by telling a story more people are able to comprehend the message in an easy digestible way.

One method to tell a data story is through infographics that incorporate key metrics in an aesthetically pleasing document that anyone from a vice president to a office manager can look at and comprehend key findings. The best infographics have a wide array of graphs that depict trends. The most popular charts include pie charts and bar graphs that show percentages, spend, and other important data. According to Analytiks, infographics are a critical marketing tool because they are “excellent for exploring complex and highly-subjective topics.”

According to Lucidchart – it’s important that a good data story has three components. Data, visuals, and a narrative. Without these three components – the data story falls flat. The article explains, “ Together, these elements put your data into context and pull the most important information into focus for key decision-makers.” Without visualization – a decision maker might be confused as to what they are looking at. Without a narrative – a decision maker may draw the wrong conclusion than an analyst intended. Together – the decision maker will understand what they’re looking at to make intelligent decisions.

Visualizing data has helped companies make smart and calculating decisions that help their businesses succeed. It’s important that data scientists understand that not everyone is a “data person”. Using their key findings to develop a story will help decision makers and key stakeholders comprehend the results and feel confident in their decisions on how to progress the organization forward.

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Danielle Loughnane

Danielle Loughnane earned her B.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College and has currently been working in the data science field since 2015. She is the author of a comic book entitled, “The Superhighs” and wrote a blog from 2011-2015 about working in the restaurant industry called, "Sir I Think You've Had Too Much.” In her spare time she likes reading graphic novels and snuggling with her dogs.

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