Telling Stories with Data


Beginning last week, I am learning how to analyze data. I have realized this is a crucial skill for modern businesses and organizations. Besides, it would be helpful in any role that requires one to sift through large amounts of information in order to make sense of the pile.

So, I watched a video on YouTube yesterday on how to tell stories using data. It was an enthusiastic presentation about how a guy had been analyzing public data about the city and residents of New York City and detecting really interesting patterns and trends. He would then use these to propose changes to the government.

Here are my takeaways from the discussion:

1. Connect with people.

Data is ultimately about people. It relates to them, their needs, and their lives. Bring out this connection when you are trying to interpret data.

2. Try to convey just one idea

Don’t bombard your audience with so much insight and ideas. Narrow down your discussion to just one theme. Perhaps you are narrating how excessive pollution is contributing to the rise of cancer cases in Lagos. Or you are exploring how limited gym services is contributing to heart attacks (just saying), try to focus on just one theme.

3. Keep it simple

Data can be complex. It is the job of the analyst to make it simple. Aim to do exactly that when interpreting it.

4. Explore the things you know best

Often, there are several possible narratives about a set of data. Stick with the angle you are most knowledgeable about. That way, you can offer a better story which resonates with your audience.

5. Make an impact

Finally, the goal of data analysis is to effect change in the business or society. It’s not just about looking at numbers, but about making our business, our community, and our world a better place.

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