Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals
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A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals
Nobody sets out to make a bad graph. But it happens. Again and again. At every company, throughout all industries and by all types of people. It happens in the media. It happens in places least expected, by people who should know better. Why is that?
“We aren’t naturally good at storytelling with data,” says author Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic. “In school we learn a lot about language and how to create stories with our words; and we learn a lot about math and how to make sense of numbers. But it’s rare that these two sides are paired: No one teaches us how to tell stories with numbers.”
In her new book, Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professional (WILEY; November 2015), Nussbaumer Knaflic expands upon the lessons taught in her highly-regarded storytelling with data workshops. It explores the fundamentals of data visualization and how to communicate effectively with data. It illuminates the power of storytelling and the way to make data a pivotal point in a story. Nussbaumer Knaflic’s lessons are grounded in theory, but made accessible through numerous real-world examples—ready for immediate application.
“Technology has enabled us to amass greater and greater amounts of data and there is an accompanying growing desire to make sense out of all this data. Being able to visualize data and tell stories with it is key to turning it into information that can be used to drive better decision making,” Nussbaumer Knaflic says. “While technology has increased access to and proficiency in tools to work with data, there remain gaps in capabilities. Pretty much anyone can put some data in Excel and create a graph. This can render the most interesting story underwhelming, or worse – difficult or impossible to understand.”
Her book demonstrates how to go beyond conventional tools to reach the root of your data, and how to use your data to create an engaging, informative, compelling story. Specifically, showing readers how to:
- Understand the importance of context and audience
- Determine the appropriate type of graph for specific situations
- Recognize and eliminate the clutter clouding information
- Direct an audience's attention to the most important parts of data
- Think like a designer and utilize concepts of design in data visualization
- Leverage the power of storytelling to help a message resonate with your audience
“This book is written for anyone who needs to communicate something to someone using data,” Nussbaumer Knaflic adds. “Effective data visualization can mean the difference between success and failure when it comes to communicating finding of a study, raising money for a non-profit or business, presenting to a board, or simply getting your point across to your audience.”
Data visualization – and communicating with data in general – sits at the intersection of science and art. Rid the world of ineffective graphs, one exploding 3D pie chart at a time.