There are many talented individuals who understand data, run complex models and analysis, but many struggle when it comes to standing in front of decision makers and telling a story.
To close this gap, we interviewed some of the star storytellers at Hyper Anna, to find out what data storytelling means to them and who they look to for inspiration.
Raffaela Bethke is a Product Manager at Hyper Anna.
1. Who do you think are the best storytellers?
My favourite storytellers are:
- Vanessa Hunt, my former manager, currently the Chief Digital Strategy Officer at GroupM.
She is a person with true honesty, always say things as they are which I respect immensely. Can trust her to pinpoint my weaknesses, which allowed me to really grow.
- The Moth podcast
Stories from The Moth make me laugh, cry, pause, think, dream and learn something new.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling and G.R.R. Martin
They are on a different level when it comes to creating universes!
2. Favourite quote from your mentor/favourite storyteller/colleague/anyone really.
Albus Dumbledore once said:
"Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light."
3) If you could have a conversation with anyone (alive or dead), and hear their story, who would that be?
The person/team who managed to convince The Lego Group to digitise the company, in order to avoid bankruptcy and future proof themselves.
This started one of the most impressive digital transformation journeys in my opinion (doesn't hurt that I've always loved Lego, and still am an avid fan.)
I often wondered what initiated this idea? What data did they use? How did they bring the vision to life? What steps did they go through to change the company from within? What were some of the biggest challenges to overcome during the process?
4) To you, what does data storytelling mean? How did it help you to succeed in your work?
To me 'storytelling' means conveying something in a way that everyone can understand. Therefore 'data storytelling' is using data to help me tell my story, to support it.
This can happen in two ways:
- You already know your story - the data will help to support and build credibility to your story.
- You come across something interesting - insight in the data that tells you a new or unexpected story.
I have found that as soon as you bring data to the table, it validates your case immediately.
Data lays things out in simple facts, it is unbiased, it doesn’t play favourites and therefore it is hard to dismiss.
5) What are your tips for telling a story with data? What should you avoid?
My tips would be:
- Keep it short and simple.
- Use language everyone can understand, be mindful who you are talking to.
- If you think it makes sense, use simple visuals/charts to emphasise your message.
- Explain the impact, e.g an increase of X% over here can mean a decrease of Y% over there.
- Don't try and twist the data to force your point, let the data speak for itself.
6) Tips of the trade: How do you tell a story as a Product Manager?
In my opinion the number one thing is to keep in mind who you are talking to.
As a product manager you interact with all parts of the business, each one having slightly different motivations, ways of thinking and communication methods. Therefore, it is crucial to keep your audience in mind when telling a story, to ensure it is compelling to them and they understand the reasonings behind certain things.
And of course if you have data supporting your story always include that, as it is evidence to help make your claim.
There are some amazing Product Managers out there whom are great at telling stories, so I'm always reminded that I still have lots to learn.
7) Any last thoughts you would like to share with everyone?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If someone can’t simplify something for you they don’t understand it well enough themselves.
Before you go...
If you’d like to learn what data storytelling means to a world-class engineer, check out our interview with Thiago, Senior Software Manager at Hyper Anna.
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