- Founder to Thought Leader
- 🚀 Data Storytelling: Transforming Data into Persuasive Stories in 3 Steps
🚀 Data Storytelling: Transforming Data into Persuasive Stories in 3 Steps
Learn to humanise your data, captivate your audience, and turn stats into powerful stories.
If there is one thing that I’ve learned during my time running TEDxClapham and as a public speaking coach, it’s that…
What ‘winning’ looks like, is different to everyone. For entrepreneurs, it might mean securing funding for your startup. In the world of sales and customer service, it’s about turning prospects into clients and improving customer satisfaction. Or maybe it’s getting internal buy-in from senior leadership on an idea you’ve had.
Whatever your goal, data is going to play a part. Not only does it help us make sense of our work, it also helps us drive decisions.
The problem is, when most people present data, the audience switches off 🥱.
Three reasons why:
Their data visuals suck (because they’re not using Graphy 😉).
They overwhelm their audience with too many numbers.
They fixate on the figures, rather than what they actually mean.
This is where the data story comes in. A tool that bridges the rational and emotional parts of our brain and humanises the numbers so that we can persuade and influence effectively.
If the raw data tells us what’s happened,
the data story reveals how.
Now, the fact that you’re using Graphy, means you’re already one step ahead. You understand that creating stunning, noise-free data visuals significantly increase engagement. In this article, I’m going to share three things you can do to ensure that your data sounds as good as it looks when you present it.
But before we start, I want to share a very important data storytelling principle:
Good things come to those who wait.
The single biggest mistake presenters make is revealing the data before their audience is ready to see it. Here’s why…
Used incorrectly, slides are a connection killer. They force your audience to choose between paying attention to you or the data. And unfortunately, with Graphy making your data look stunning, that’s a battle you’re going to lose (no offence!).
This is why holding back your Graphys is the secret to ensuring that your data stories pack a punch. That means that the first slide of your data story might look something like this…
It’s a slide that says… ‘Nothing to see here… yet! So keep your attention on me.’
Use it, and you’ll be able to hold a room like the conductor of an orchestra. With this principle in mind, let’s get into the data story!
Part 1: The Hook - Start your data stories with a question 🪝
At the heart of every great data story is an important question that your audience wants answered. Opening your data story with it will help you to do two things:
Pique your audience’s curiosity, and
Expose gaps in their knowledge.
Curiosity will keep your audience engaged while exposing their knowledge gaps will remind them of what they don’t know and incentivising them to listen as a result.
What’s more, questions are far more persuasive than statements, especially when the facts and figures are on your side.
I’ve recently used Graphy to visualise £500k’s worth of speaking fee data as part of an initiative to help entrepreneurs who deliver keynote speeches feel more comfortable charging what they’re worth.
Rather than shoving all the data in their face in one hit, I used Graphy’s title feature to ask the question on everyone’s mind…
The result? Curiosity piqued. Everyone in the room hanging off your every word. Your data story is off to the best possible start.
Part 2: The Reveal - Dripfeed your data to create a powerful narrative 💧
Neil Gaiman, the author of The Sandman and American Gods (which has recently been turned into a series on Netflix once said:
You can sum up the secret to great storytelling in three words…
What Happens Next?!
If we were to stop our story at any point, he believes that those should be the first three words to come out of our audience’s mouths.
Our job as storytellers is to curate the data that our audience sees. Only give them the data that they need and drip-feed it through so they’re seeing it on your terms. Most presenters share it all at once and send their audience into information overload.
Instead, create a visual narrative for your data story by covering up the bits of data that you don’t want your audience to see.
This is where your Graphy becomes a data story. And the best bit is, it’s super simple to do. Never underestimate the power of the humble text box. Here I’ve used it in three ways…
To hide data - match the colour of your text box to the background of your Graphy.
To highlight a statistic - Graphy has a ‘pin tooltip’ where you can automatically reveal the number on the chart. Personally, I prefer to create my own as it gives me full license on design and location.
To make specific parts of your charts pop - like the two bars I’ve highlighted in slide 9. Just change the shape of your text box to a rounded rectangle and adjust the size to fit.
Be creative! There’s only one rule: keep to one insight per slide.
Part 3: The Insight - Leave your audience with a learning 💡.
The most impactful data stories teach us something new. Sharing it last ensures that it’s got the best chance of being remembered.
Your job as a data storyteller isn’t just to share the numbers in an interesting way and trust that your audience will come up with their own conclusion. If they wanted you to do that, they’d have asked you to send your Graphys in a PDF, not a presentation.
After you’ve revealed the data, the question on your audience’s mind will be…
And that’s the question you’ve got to answer. In a single sentence.
Here’s an example:
The point is, companies are not only twice as likely to pay their speakers, they also pay their speakers double…
so design a speaking strategy that targets companies, not conferences.’
Cue your mic drop 🎤… and their jaws drop 😲!
There you have it, data storytelling done right in three simple steps:
Start with a question to hook your audience
Drip feed your data to create a powerful narrative
Leave your audience with a learning
Now you can shine as much as your data does!
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