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Murad Alexandrov
Murad Alexandrov

Storytelling with Data: A Practical and Inspirational Book by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic


Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic




Data is everywhere. We collect it, analyze it, and use it to make decisions, communicate ideas, and persuade others. But how do we turn data into meaningful insights that can inform and inspire our audience? How do we present data in a way that is clear, compelling, and actionable?




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That's where storytelling with data comes in. Storytelling with data is the art and science of using data visualization to communicate effectively with data. It's not just about making charts and graphs, but about crafting a narrative that engages your audience and drives them to action.


In this article, we will review one of the best books on this topic: Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic. We will summarize the main points of the book, highlight the key takeaways and lessons learned, and answer some frequently asked questions about storytelling with data.


Introduction




In the introduction, the author explains what storytelling with data is and why it matters. She also introduces herself and her background as a data storyteller.


What is storytelling with data?




Storytelling with data is the process of transforming data into a visual story that can be understood, remembered, and acted upon by your audience. It involves three steps:



  • Understand the context: Know your audience, your goal, and your message.



  • Choose an effective visual: Select the right type of chart or graph that best displays your data and supports your message.



  • Eliminate clutter: Simplify your visual by removing anything that distracts from your message.



  • Focus attention: Use design elements such as color, size, and position to draw your audience's attention to the most important parts of your visual.



  • Think like a designer: Apply aesthetic principles such as alignment, balance, and contrast to make your visual appealing and professional.



  • Tell a story: Add context, emotion, and narrative to your visual to make it more engaging and persuasive.



The author illustrates each step with examples from her own work and from other sources. She also provides tips, exercises, and resources for practicing and improving your storytelling with data skills.


Who is Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic?




Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic is a data storyteller, speaker, trainer, and author. She has a passion for helping people communicate effectively with data. She has over a decade of experience in data analysis and visualization, working for companies such as Google, YouTube, and the World Bank. She is also the founder and CEO of Storytelling with Data, a consultancy that teaches data storytelling workshops and courses around the world. She has written two books on this topic: Storytelling with Data and Storytelling with Data: Let's Practice!


Why should you read this book?




You should read this book if you want to learn how to:



  • Make your data more accessible and understandable to your audience.



  • Make your data more memorable and impactful to your audience.



  • Make your data more actionable and influential to your audience.



This book is suitable for anyone who works with data, whether you are a beginner or an expert, a business professional or a student, a analyst or a manager. It will help you develop the skills and confidence to tell stories with data in any situation.


Summary of the book




In this section, we will briefly summarize the main points of each chapter of the book. Each chapter covers one of the six steps of storytelling with data, with examples, exercises, and tips.


Chapter 1: The importance of context




The first step of storytelling with data is to understand the context of your data and your audience. You need to answer three questions before you start creating your visual:



  • Who is your audience? You need to know who they are, what they care about, what they already know, and what they expect from you.



  • What is your goal? You need to know what you want your audience to know, feel, or do after seeing your visual.



  • What is your message? You need to know what is the main point or takeaway that you want to convey with your data.



The author suggests using a storyboard to plan your visual and your story. A storyboard is a sketch or outline of your visual that shows the flow and structure of your story. It helps you organize your thoughts, test your ideas, and get feedback from others.


Chapter 2: Choosing an effective visual




The second step of storytelling with data is to choose an effective visual that best displays your data and supports your message. You need to consider two factors when choosing a visual:



  • The type of data you have: You need to know what kind of data you are working with, such as categorical, numerical, temporal, spatial, or hierarchical.



  • The purpose of your visual: You need to know what you want to show with your data, such as comparison, distribution, composition, relationship, or change over time.



The author provides a chart chooser diagram that helps you select the right type of chart or graph based on these two factors. She also explains the pros and cons of different types of charts and graphs, such as bar charts, line charts, pie charts, scatter plots, and maps. She advises against using 3D effects, pie charts with too many slices, or charts that distort the data.


Chapter 3: Clutter is your enemy




The third step of storytelling with data is to eliminate clutter from your visual. Clutter is anything that distracts from your message or makes it harder for your audience to understand your data. Clutter can include unnecessary elements such as gridlines, borders, backgrounds, legends, labels, or colors. It can also include misleading elements such as truncated axes, dual axes, or inappropriate scales.


The author recommends using the principle of "less is more" when creating your visual. She suggests removing anything that does not add value or meaning to your visual. She also suggests using whitespace to create contrast and hierarchy in your visual. Whitespace is the empty space between elements in your visual that helps separate and group them.


Chapter 4: Focus your audience's attention




The fourth step of storytelling with data is to focus your audience's attention on the most important parts of your visual. You need to guide your audience's eyes and brains to where you want them to go. You can use design elements such as color, size, and position to create focus and emphasis in your visual.


The author advises using color sparingly and strategically in your visual. She suggests using a single color for most of the elements in your visual and using a contrasting color for the elements that you want to highlight. She also suggests using size and position to create hierarchy and order in your visual. She suggests using larger and higher elements for more important information and smaller and lower elements for less important information.


Chapter 5: Think like a designer




The fifth step of storytelling with data is to think like a designer when creating your visual. You need to apply aesthetic principles such as alignment, balance, and contrast to make your visual appealing and professional. You also need to consider the format and medium of your visual, such as paper, screen, or presentation and stories.


  • Lack of engagement: Using boring or generic visuals or stories can lead to disinterest or indifference in your audience.



These challenges or pitfalls can be avoided or overcome by following the six lessons of storytelling with data and by practicing and getting feedback on your visuals and stories.





This is the end of the article. I hope you enjoyed reading it and learned something new about storytelling with data. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me. Thank you for your attention and have a great day! 71b2f0854b


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