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Why and how you should tell a story with your data

10. december 2022

Don't simply show your data - tell a story with it

Communicating your data insights, through a compelling narrative, is an effective way of engaging and inspiring your stakeholders. Let us take you through the why’s and how’s of data storytelling.


As humans, we have been practicing storytelling as a means of transmitting and sharing information since we carved the first cave drawings. Hence, we are wired to understand information better when we can relate to its narrative. The same goes for communicating and understanding data. If you communicate your insights through an effective narrative, your stakeholders will get greater benefit from your data.


With other words: storytelling helps you take advantage of the opportunities hidden in your data. Simply showing data through spreadsheets, dashboards, and BI tools, tells us what is happening – but not why it is happening. Telling a story with your information and insights through an effective narrative will instead create a common language between you and your stakeholders. 

Telling a story with your data and insights through an effective narrative will create a common language between you and your stakeholders.

The components of a good data story

Data storytelling.svg


The foundation of the story is context, where you determine what you want to obtain, who you want to affect and the challenges you want to overcome with your data. It is then important that you treat each data point as a character with its own agenda and frame your insights into a narrative that conveys your message. At last, it is time to visualize the insights and emphasize the most important data points. Hereby, the trends and patterns (that, often, are hidden in rows and columns of spreadsheets) will be brought to life. Altogether, these components will give your insights an effective voice. 

Bikes vs. Cars in Copenhagen (example)

Story - bikes vs. cars.svg

In the city of Copenhagen, there are 5 times more bikes than cars, according to the Cycling Embassy of Denmark. This is an impressive statistic that can be demonstrated effectively through a narrative.


Choosing the bike is the sustainable and ‘cool’ choice to make in Copenhagen. The purpose of this story is to enlighten the cherished biking community and encourage the target audience (citizens and tourists) to choose a bike over a car. The data points (number of bikes vs. cars) are treated as separate characters with competing agendas. The majority of the bikes is illustrated graphically with colored icons to create a more compelling visualization.


When communicating the data through this narrative, the target audience is likely to understand and benefit from the insights. Additionally, the dataset is more likely to enable a ‘call to action’ of choosing the bike over the car, when the target audience is engaged by the visualized narrative.

Storytelling with Best Practice

Best Practice helps you understand and arrange your data effectively, so the components needed for your data story are tangible and qualified. This enables your business to better interpret data and create a compelling narrative based on valuable insights. Discover the tools and guidelines of Best Practice or contact us with questions regarding the storytelling of your data insights.

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