Guide to telling stories with data: How to share analytics insights

Last updated:June 2016

Editor's note

Data has long been used to tell stories of a sort in organizations. But over the past couple years, data storytelling has emerged more overtly as a formal process and, in some companies, a business intelligence and analytics job category. Telling stories with data typically goes hand in hand with data visualization -- charts and other forms of infographics are common components of data stories aimed at explaining the findings of BI and analytics applications to business executives.

But that connection also leads to a potential pitfall for data storytellers: overwhelming execs with flashy visualizations that are hard to decipher. And there's more to crafting an engaging data story than just creating some data visualizations and putting them together in a dashboard or report. Effective data storytelling also requires an accompanying narrative that clarifies what's being shown in visualizations and provides context on why the information is relevant to an organization's business strategies and operations.

In the sections below, we've pulled together a variety of trend stories, best-practices articles, podcasts and videos that offer insight and advice on managing data visualization and storytelling initiatives. Use the tips and lessons-learned wisdom you'll find in the content items to ensure that your BI and analytics team is adept at telling stories with data -- and that your efforts don't turn into an analytics horror story.

1Tips for telling stories with data

It's all too easy to go wrong in telling data stories. BI developers and data analysts can get caught up in creating data visualizations that turn out to be more art project than informational graphic. Or they can go deep into the weeds of analytical processes instead of focusing on the business ramifications of the information those processes produce. This section includes articles that provide advice from consultants and experienced BI and analytics managers on how to keep data storytelling efforts on the right track.