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Lessons From the Frontiers of Data Storytelling


  1. Learn how to make your data and evaluation presentations more compelling, engaging and comprehensible.
  2. Participate in a Data Walk and pick up tips for using this tool in your community.
  3. Interactive exercises will demonstrate how you can unite data and stories.


Exercise #1: Data Walk – analyze poster in a small group and determine:

  1. What surprises you?
  2. What’s missing?
  3. What bright spots do you see in the data?
  4. What more do you wish you knew?
  5. What areas of concern do you see in the data?

A data walk always gets more questions than it actually answers…

Data gives the impression of being truth – however data is based on facts, not necessarily truth.

Ethical Considerations

  • Data is better understood when it’s attached to a story
    • Work horses, not purple unicorns
    • Tell their story, not your story – keep the subject’s perspective not the author’s
    • Framing it up
    • Racial and ethnic disparities
      • Representation
      • Small numbers – difficult to generalize any one group’s experience
      • Problematic categories – who are the people represented
      • Illuminating disparities
  • How to Storify your data
    • 5 tips from Cole Knaflic
      • Understand the context
        • What will get the AUDIENCE to act?
        • What is the big idea?
        • Create a storyboard with narrative arc
      • Choose an appropriate visual
        • Starting with bar chart
        • Draw it and test it
        • Avoid pie charts
      • Eliminate clutter – don’t overload the graphic with tons of random data
      • Draw attention where you want it
      • Tell a story
        • What is the takeaway?
        • Use pictures – more memorable
        • One big number is okay, just connect it to the big idea

These notes were captured by The Communications Network and have been reviewed by the presenters. ComNet18 Breakout Session notes were made possible thanks to the generous support of the Kalliopeia Foundation.


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