Data so what

 

a question that comes up often in my workshops when we are looking at graphs and discussing how they can be improved. Other flavors of this same basic question take the form: “What is the message?”, “What is the story here?” or the concise, “So what?”

Too often, when we communicate with data, we don’t make our point clear. We leave our audience guessing. Your audience should never have to guess what message you want them to know. The onus is on the person communicating the information (you!) to make that clear.

I’ve been thinking a lot about story lately (in preparation for my recent Tapestry presentation and also for an upcoming project). The word “story” has become a buzzword. Everyone wants to “tell a story with data.” But very often, when we use this phrase, we don’t really mean story. We mean what I mentioned above—the point, the key takeaway, the so what? 

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