I want to recommend a very useful book: Storytelling with Data, by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic. It’s available from the Seattle Public Library. (I wish I could credit where I heard about it, all I know is I put it on my ‘to read’ list about 5 months ago.)

Storytelling with Data book cover image

What I really appreciated about it is that is chock-full of highly practical suggestions that can be readily implemented.

It’s also a nice balance of viz authoring advice (much of which will be a refresher if you’ve read Tufte, Few, Yau, Cairo, etc) along with very concrete suggestions for how to present data in a way that can drive action – thinking about the audience, what story you’re telling them, and what you want them to leave with.

Showing the steps involved, whether in building / improving a viz, or in telling a story using data, was tremendously helpful to me – showed how to put principles into practice.

Cole gave a related 15-minute talk at the Tapestry conference – one of my colleagues was there, and their review was:

Brilliantly relevant to our customers.  Cole did a skit of a typical boring business presentation of data findings.  She then itemized a clear set of storytelling techniques: repetition, pictures, narrative arc (plot, rising action, climax, falling action, ending).  She then retold the story.  Might have been the best talk of the day.

Here’s the talk:

I highly recommend the book to anyone who wants to communicate with data.