What is data storytelling?

Data storytelling is a structured approach for communicating data insights, and it involves a combination of three key elements: data, visuals, and narrative.
— Brent Dykes, Forbes 2016

Where dashboards and individual charts tell you ‘what’ happened, data stories add the ‘why’ and ‘so what’. Data stories reveal insights that are not obvious from the data or visuals themselves. The differentiator is narrative. Narrative is used to add context, simplify complexity, and provide a cohesive and logical flow of information that drives the audience to a compelling call to action.

It is this ability to translate data into business outcomes, to convert insights into actions, that unlocks the value of data.

When you combine the right visuals and narrative with the right data, you have a data story that can influence and drive change.
— Brent Dykes, Forbes 2016

Think you can recognise the difference between a data visualisation and a data story?

Test out your skills below!

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Is this a data story?

This is NOT a data story. It is just a pretty list of numbers. There is no context, no insights, no storyline driving toward a call to action. The audience of this 'by the numbers' infographic needs to know the context to appreciate it and understand the relevance of the data contained in it.

Click on the image to view it in full.

Click on the image to view it in full.

Is this a data story?

This IS a data story. It has a story structure that starts with setting up an emotional connection to the data, takes the reader through a curated and contextualised series of data visuals supported by narration, all driving to a final call to action.

 

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