Creating Lasting Impact through Data Storytelling

Sambodhi > Blog > Data > Creating Lasting Impact through Data Storytelling
Posted by: Kultar Singh
Category: Data
Data storytelling

Data storytelling has gained prominence over the last several years due to the growing importance of data in our lives. Additionally, the narrative created through data has always been the primary means through which people have learned to understand themselves and the world in which we live, which is why it is critical to consider what makes a compelling data narrative. We must also understand how one can convey a data narrative that enables people to make more informed choices by considering factors that can contribute to a data tale’s effectiveness.

Data does not speak for itself. The human brain is wired to make predictions, filling the gaps in what one sees or hears with knowledge, experience, and bias. This means that people create their narratives about what they see or hear. 

Our understanding of data may vary because there is no method to lead us through it and navigate the information that appears in various locations and formats. In addition, it may be confusing to some people, so it is important to understand why it matters, how to create a data narrative, and how sharing a narrative builds trust. Thus, storytelling can effectively build a narrative and communicate the data in an interactive, engaging, and impactful way. 

The next question is, how do you tell the story? Do you tell a tale about the data itself, or do you tell a story about a parallel story in which you begin by extracting its elements to support the data? 

The narrative is the most powerful and human way of interacting with other individuals. If you can tell a story with your data, it encourages the audience to feel more connected to it; they will not only believe what you show them, but they will also feel it. Such methods ensure longevity in the narrative’s impact on the audience. 

The next question is, what makes a good story? What are its defining characteristics? 

A good story should address certain key points that include the context. The context should establish the need behind this act of storytelling, the source of the conflict, and its resolution or solution. Since the human brain thrives on anticipation, a good story creates suspense for the reader, encouraging them to think about all possible outcomes and dissipating the anticipation by sharing something unexpected and attention-grabbing. Additionally, a strong story aids the development of a concept. It enables you to see something you can no longer ignore, possibly encouraging you to take action, make a change and act on the value the story conveys.

Every story follows a structure that has been defined in the tenets of screenwriting which include a hook, a setup, a conflict, and its resolution. At first, we can have the hook, a piece that builds interest in the story or the opening act. Next comes the setup, which establishes the context and introduces the concept of the story through data. Next is conflict, which details the problem we are trying to solve and communicate, followed by the solution or the resolution. Finally, the resolution is just the new reality that the change makes possible. 

Let’s look at a story about sanitation practices communicated through data. As part of the story, one can start by introducing a hook, wherein we can show data highlighting the morbidity and mortality burden due to poor sanitation practices. Once the audience is hooked, one can start building the background by highlighting the specific context of the availability and usage of sanitation practices in India and the behavioral barriers around the use of toilets that lead to the conflict. Subsequently, through further data, one can highlight the progress made under the “Swachh Bharat Mission” and how the approach to building toilets has helped increase the access and usage of sanitation services. The data may also reflect a decrease in open defecation, providing the resolution to the story while highlighting the challenges and the behavioral aspect of the usage of toilets. 

Thus, a good story, communicated interactively and engagingly, leads to a narrative that builds trust around the intervention and leaves a lasting impact on the audience. 

Kultar Singh – Chief Executive Officer, Sambodhi

Author: Kultar Singh

Leave a Reply