Mar 7, 2023

How To Tell A Story With Data?

To start, let's define what a dashboard is. A dashboard is a visual display of key metrics and data points that provide a quick snapshot of performance. Dashboards are typically used to monitor business processes, track progress towards goals, and identify areas for improvement. Dashboards are designed to be interactive, allowing users to drill down into the data and explore trends.

On the other hand, a data story is a narrative that uses data to communicate a message. A data story goes beyond a dashboard by providing context and insights that help the audience understand the data and its implications. A data story is designed to engage and inspire the audience, leading to action and decision-making.

So, what are some tips for effectively telling a data story to a business user?

First, know your audience. You need to understand the goals and objectives of your audience, as well as their level of technical expertise. This will help you tailor your message and avoid overwhelming them with unnecessary details.

Next, focus on the story. A data story should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Start with a compelling introduction that sets the stage for the data and its implications. Use data to provide evidence and insights that support your message. And end with a call to action that motivates the audience to take action based on the insights you've provided.

It's also important to keep it simple. Avoid using jargon or technical terms that your audience may not be familiar with. Use visuals, such as charts and graphs, to help convey your message and make it more engaging.

Telling a story with data is an important skill for anyone who wants to effectively communicate complex information to others. Data is a powerful tool, but without a clear narrative to connect the numbers to real-life situations or experiences, it can be overwhelming and difficult to understand. A well-told story can help make sense of the data and provide a clear picture of what it is trying to communicate.

There are several reasons why telling a story with data is important. The very first reason is it helps make the data more memorable and persuasive. By connecting the numbers to emotional experiences, a story can increase its persuasive power and inspire action.

A story can help people understand the significance of the data in a way that simply presenting the data cannot. By providing context and a clear narrative, a story can make the data more relatable and easier to understand and a good story with data can help build trust and credibility. By presenting the data in a clear and transparent way, and by connecting it to real-life situations, a story can increase the audience's trust in the information being presented.

Data stories vs. Data visualizations

Data stories are designed to provide context and narrative to the data being presented. Data stories use storytelling techniques to connect the data to real-life situations or experiences, and to help the audience understand the significance of the data in a more meaningful way.

  • Data stories are often used in marketing, journalism, and other forms of communication where the goal is to engage the audience and build a narrative around the data.

Data visualizations are designed to present data in a way that is easy to understand and visually engaging. This can include graphs, charts, maps, and other visual aids that help to convey complex information quickly and effectively.

  • Data visualizations are often used in presentations, reports, and other forms of communication where the goal is to present the data clearly and concisely.

Both data visualizations and data stories are important tools for communicating complex information to others, and the best approach will depend on the context and goals of the communication.

How To Tell A Story With Data?

Data storytelling is a powerful tool for businesses and professionals who want to communicate complex data in a way that is engaging, compelling, and easy to understand. To tell a data story effectively, there are four key steps that you should follow to communicate your findings.

1. Identify your story

The first step in telling a data story is to identify the story you want to tell. Start by asking yourself what message you want to convey and what insights you want to communicate through your data. Your data story should have a clear beginning, middle, and end, and it should be focused on a central theme or message. It is also essential to consider the context of your data and how it relates to your audience.

You can draw inspiration from a wide range of sources, such as industry trends, customer behavior, or even social media conversations. By identifying your story, you can stay focused and ensure that your data storytelling is clear, concise, and effective.

2. Be aware of your audience

Knowing your audience is key to telling a compelling data story. Consider who your audience is and what they care about. Tailor your data story to their needs and interests, and use language and visuals that are appropriate for their level of understanding.

Your audience may include colleagues, clients, investors, or other stakeholders, and they may have different levels of expertise or familiarity with your industry or topic. Understanding their perspective and anticipating their questions can help you create a data story that resonates with them and is more likely to drive action.

3. Analyze data and find insights

Once you have identified your story and audience, it's time to analyze your data to find insights. Look for trends, patterns, and outliers that support your story, and be prepared to dig deep to find the insights that matter most. Use statistical analysis tools and techniques to extract insights from your data. It's essential to verify your data's accuracy and ensure that your findings are based on reliable information.

Additionally, consider the context in which your data was collected and how it may affect your interpretation. By analyzing your data thoroughly, you can identify the insights that will make your data story compelling and impactful.

4. Data visualization

Finally, use data visualization to communicate your findings. Visuals such as charts, graphs, and infographics can make complex data more accessible and easier to understand. Choose visuals that are appropriate for your audience and that help to tell your story.

Make sure your visuals are clear and easy to read, and that they support your overall message. Be creative and use visuals that are engaging and visually appealing. Remember that visuals should enhance your data storytelling and not distract from it.

Let me give you an example to illustrate the difference between a dashboard and a data story.

Let's say you are a manager at a restaurant and you want to monitor the performance of your kitchen staff. You could create a dashboard that shows key metrics such as the number of dishes served, the number of complaints received, and the average time it takes to prepare a dish. This dashboard would provide you with a quick snapshot of the kitchen's performance and allow you to identify areas for improvement.

However, if you want to communicate the message that your kitchen staff is overworked and that this is affecting the quality of the food, you would need to create a data story. You could use data to show how the number of dishes served has increased over time, while the number of kitchen staff has remained the same. You could also show how the average time it takes to prepare a dish has increased, which may indicate that the kitchen staff is struggling to keep up with demand.

To make the data story more engaging, you could provide real-life examples of how the overworked kitchen staff has affected the quality of the food. For instance, you could show how the number of complaints has increased over time, or you could provide specific examples of customers who have complained about the quality of their meal.

By telling this data story, you would be able to communicate the message that your kitchen staff is overworked and that this is affecting the quality of the food. This would help you make a case for hiring more kitchen staff or reorganizing the kitchen to make it more efficient.

Now, let's talk about some mistakes that business and data analysts make when telling their data stories.

One common mistake is focusing too much on the data and not enough on the story. While data is important, it's the story that engages and inspires the audience. Make sure you have a clear message and use data to support that message.

Another mistake is overwhelming the audience with too much information. It's important to focus on the key insights and metrics that support your message. Avoid presenting too many charts or graphs, as this can be confusing and detract from the story.

Lastly, don't forget about the context. It's important to provide context for the data and explain why it's important. Use analogies or real-life examples to help the audience understand the implications of the data.


In conclusion, telling a data story is an essential skill for professionals who need to communicate complex data to a wide range of audiences. To tell an effective data story, it is essential to identify your story's central theme, be aware of your audience's needs and interests, analyze your data to find insights, and use data visualization to support your story. Additionally, it is crucial to keep your language simple and straightforward, be accurate, be creative, and make your data story actionable. By following these tips, you can create a data story that engages your audience, communicates your insights effectively, and inspires action. Ultimately, data storytelling is about using data to tell a story that resonates with your audience and drives positive outcomes.

We at Alphaa AI are on a mission to tell #1billion #datastories with their unique perspective. We are the community that is creating Citizen Data Scientists, who bring in data first approach to their work, core specialisation, and the organisation.With Saurabh Moody and Preksha Kaparwan you can start your journey as a citizen data scientist.

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