Data. Data. Data.
It’s everywhere and you and I are expected to know how to speak this new primary language of business. Every leader in business today is expected to be data driven. Data storytelling has become an integral part of modern business communication. Understanding the essentials of data storytelling helps leaders more effectively work with and tell their stories with data.
There are six essential parts to the data storytelling process. These data storytelling essentials are all necessary to effectively communicate your impact and compel action.
Watch this Data Storytelling Essentials video to introduce you to the six data storytelling essentials you should know!
DATA LITERACY IS EMPOWERING
Every decision maker is expected to do so with data. A data driven business leader is someone who uses data to both gain and share insights to make decisions. They can read with, work with, analyze, make decisions from, and communicate with data. In other words, a data driven leader has a degree of data literacy that enables them to both read and speak the language of business. Data literacy is empowering!
THE DATA GLUT
So. Much. Data. Data is increasingly at our fingertips with no signs of slowing down. According to one estimate, the total amount of data reached 64.2 zettabytes in 2020 and is expected to grow to more than 180 zettabytes by 2025. One zettabyte is equal to 1 billion terabytes. Business leaders in all areas of the organization are now called upon to use data to drive their decision making.
And while most business leaders certainly know some of the lingo, many don't know enough to be fluent. And even the most fluent sometime struggle with effectively communicating their data insights. The growth in demand and expectation of data literacy skills has outpaced skill development in this area.
Fortunately, data literacy can be learned. Understanding and applying the essentials of data storytelling is one step in that direction.
DATA STORYTELLING CAN BE LEARNED
Data Storytelling Essentials is a communication skills-based workshop that was developed to provide leaders with the ability to understand and apply the data storytelling process. Communicating with data can be learned.
In recent months, I have had the opportunity to empower leaders in healthcare and leaders of volunteers through various Data Storytelling Essentials workshops.
This coming September 2023, I will be presenting my 5th Data Storytelling Essentials training/workshop of the year!
I started the year, with a workshop in February. Data Storytelling Essentials was presented as a series of three 1-hour sessions over two days at the California Hospital Association’s Healthcare Volunteer Leadership Conference in Sacramento.
In March, I condensed it to a 30-minute overview and flew to Dallas to present at The Beryl Institute's Elevate PX 2023 event.
And in late June, I had the privilege of showcasing a sample of the workshop for the Leading Voices in Healthcare Expo 2023. That was a fun learning snippet that has inspired a whole slew of short video clips that will be shared in the near future!
The upcoming workshop in September at the 7th Annual Patient Experience Symposium is a 90-minute pre-conference workshop option. I am so thrilled to share this learning with patient experience leaders.
By the way, this conference is going to be dynamite! I am looking forward to hearing from Laura Cooley, Greg Makoul, Rick Evans, Toni Land, Denise Wiseman, Danie Turpin, Thomas Dahlborg, and so many other patient experience thought leaders who inspire me. Check out the speaker lineup at 7th Annual Patient Experience Symposium website.
THE SIX DATA STORYTELLING ESSENTIALS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Data storytelling resides at the Venn-diagram intersection sweet spot in the middle of data, visualization, and narrative. Each of these are essential to data storytelling. Done well, data storytelling distances itself from data showing and data sharing by weaving these elements together in such a way that convinces or compels an audience.
In addition to these three key essentials are three more elements essential to data storytelling. Data communication planning is essential to the storytelling process. Storytelling starts with shaping a precise plan based on the business objective and audience.
The delivery and method used to share your data story is also an essential component. Data stories are still often presented in slides decks, frequently attended by a live speaker.
All of this occurs in the context of an organization’s data culture. From encouraging innovation and data literacy to fostering supportive communication behaviors, data culture is absolutely another data storytelling essential.
DATA STORYTELLING ESSENTIAL #1 | DATA LITERACY
Data literacy encompasses the ability to decode and make sense of the data with which you are working. From understanding the difference between descriptive and predictive analytics to being familiar with standard deviations and chart elements, it all starts with a firm foundation of analytic basics.
Related: Picture This: To-Be Process Mapping
DATA STORYTELLING ESSENTIAL #2 | DATA VISUALIZATION
Data visualizations are the graphical representations of the data. Visually depicting data through use of charts, graphs, process maps, and other forms is a way to communicate more effectively with stakeholders.
DATA STORYTELLING ESSENTIAL #3 | DATA NARRATIVE
Data narrative refers to the art of layering story arc elements into the visual design process in such a way as to move your audience to act. If data is the language, then visualizations are the words and phrases, and data narrative is the art of forming those into a story. Stories are intended for audiences.
Related: Narrative Design: The Data Story Arc
DATA STORYTELLING ESSENTIAL #4 | DATA COMMUNICATION PLANNING
Effective data stories start with a precise plan. Knowing your goals, the audience, and the action you desire them to take because of your message is really the first step of the data storytelling process.
Clarify your vision. Plan with precision.
DATA STORYTELLING ESSENTIAL #5 | DATA PRESENTATION
How the data is ultimately shared affects the data storytelling process. Whether the data story is shared in a traditional slide deck attended by verbal remarks, or a one page/one slide email are additional aspects to be considered in data story creation.
DATA STORYTELLING ESSENTIAL #6 | DATA CULTURE
The nature of the data culture of the organization in which the data is shared is also essential for effective data storytelling. From stakeholder data literacy skills and their familiarity with the data being presented to your own ability to access and ask questions of data, there are many cultural considerations in creating an effective data story to share.
Each of the six data storytelling essentials is a core and relevant component of effective data communication. These Data Storytelling Essentials can be learned. The Data Storytelling Essentials workshops provide communication skills-based practical application of each part of the data storytelling process.
Right now this content is available in live workshops and trainings, but I'm excited to say I am in the process of developing online content that will live at www.datastorytellingessentials.com (Right now it takes you to the home page. Subscribe and you will get updated when it does go live!)
From data to story, understanding the six data storytelling essentials will help you, your organization, or your association’s leaders more effectively communicate with data.
Roseanna Galindo, ECBA, CAVS
Roseanna Galindo is Principal at Periscope Business Process Analysis and a champion for data literacy, the human experience in healthcare, and leaders of volunteers everywhere. Learn more about Roseanna and her blog, The Periscope Insighter, by reading the opening post, Venn The Time Is Right