Improving Your Data Science Storytelling
Sat, April 10, 2021

Improving Your Data Science Storytelling

Your code is not worth it if you can't explain the results of your analysis / Photo Credit: pathdoc (via Shutterstock)


What if your analysis developed into powerful insight? What do you do when you can’t communicate your results to your target audience? If you can’t, that means your analysis is “not worth the code it ran on”, said George Lawton of Search Business Analytics, a website dedicated to business intelligence and analytics professionals. Giving someone a number from an analysis doesn’t accomplish anything. In fact, it rarely does! People want to know the reason why. Hence, data science storytelling aims to give your audience a concrete, numerical answer, communicating it in a compelling way and transforming complex analyses into actionable insights. 

Denise Tan, data storytelling analyst at StoryIQ, a data analytics consultancy, said, “Data storytelling has spelled the difference between getting project stakeholders' buy-in or not." Tain said the power of data storytelling stems from communicating data that makes it understandable and relatable to the human experience. Andrea Godfrey Flynn, associate professor of marketing and the academic director for the Master of Science in Business Analytics program at the University of San Diego School of Business, noted that data translators that specialize in storytelling have evolved to complement data engineers, data scientists, and data visualization experts. Data translators serve as a link between other team members, including business managers or clients who will use the analysis to address problems. 

"In any scenario, it is essential to know whom you will be presenting to and what they care about," Flynn explained. This is important when communicating with your data because you will have to tailor your story to highlight the elements of the analysis that are the most significant to your audience. Then, you can concisely narrate the main idea of the story. When you are clear about the main idea, it’s easier to “weave that idea through the more detailed story you share with your audience.”  

You should also cultivate emotional appeal to draw and engage with your audience, suggested Angel Durr, founder of DataReady, a data science training program. She added, “I love how quickly the speakers draw you in and keep you engaged in a short amount of time yet still relay an important idea that people connect with on a personal level.”