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Data Storytelling: using data to convey powerful messages

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Data storytelling is a powerful technique that involves using data to craft a compelling and meaningful narrative. It goes beyond presenting raw numbers and statistics, aiming to communicate insights, patterns, and implications in a way that resonates with the audience. Here are key elements and tips for effective data storytelling: Know Your Audience:

Data Storytelling is the art of conveying information through a story, using data. This branch of business intelligence is becoming increasingly popular, and is being promoted for its effectiveness in conveying a message.

This is a fairly recent concept that makes it easier and more accessible to understand and interpret data.

The story being told is always written for a particular audience with its own interests and understanding of the subject. It is the closeness that the audience can have with the story being told that makes the transmission of the message so effective.

Data viz or storytelling

Data storytelling is often confused with data visualisation. In fact, the two are linked and form part of the wider field of Business Intelligence. Data Storytelling is in fact a way of using data visualisation to make information more accessible. Where traditional data visualisation using graphs and histograms can convey a large amount of information to users at almost any level of understanding of the subject, data storytelling concentrates on the crucial information and presents it in a way that is of maximum interest to its target audience.

To illustrate this, we can think of a way of conveying information about road accidents (taken from a real prevention campaign). Below is the video.

In data visualisation, we would tend to show the annual number of accidents, the fatal accident rate, its evolution and other statistics. In data storytelling, the focus is more on what concerns the road user and the impact it has on them. The focus is on the consequences of an accident for the family and friends of the people involved.

The benefits of data storytelling

As mentioned above, data storytelling has a number of advantages over traditional data visualisation:

  • A close relationship with the audience that captures their attention
  • A concrete aspect that makes the information convincing
  • Ease of understanding thanks to the means used
  • More effective memorisation of information that is associated with a story rather than with figures.

It should be pointed out, however, that one notable disadvantage is that it is difficult to convey a large amount of information in this way, and you are often forced to concentrate on just one important point. However, this choice to omit information that is not crucial has no impact on the relevance of the message.

How do you tell a story effectively?

Data Storytelling involves extracting information from raw data and interpreting it. We look for statistics that can highlight certain phenomena or causal links between different elements. Based on these links, we can write a compelling story for our audience.

It’s also important to keep the target audience in mind at all times. To do this, we need to consider their level of knowledge of the subject and their particular interests. It is often illusory to think that you can address different audiences with a single story.

The best examples of data storytelling succeed in conveying the reality behind statistics that seem trivial to us because of orders of magnitude or other factors, and in making them important to the audience.

The benefits of data storytelling for businesses

So why do we need Data Storytelling in business? Wouldn’t it be simpler to present raw figures to decision-makers in order to convince them that they are a well-informed and trained audience on the subjects in question? In fact, it currently seems that traditional data visualisation works very well in this area.

However, emotion still plays an important role in decision-making today, and pure logic is not always enough.

Of course, I’m not talking here about influencing decision-making by playing on emotion alone, but rather about complementing the figures with a situational representation of the reality they represent. This can help decision-makers to better imagine the concrete consequences of their actions.


Data Storytelling is a good way of communicating information to a group of people in a powerful way. Whether it’s to raise awareness of a particular cause among a wide audience or to help business decision-making, there’s a lot to be gained by mastering this discipline. You can learn more about Data Storytelling by taking our Data Analyst diploma course.

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