Storytelling with Data Training

Narrative Numbers: Designing Data-Driven Stories

Course Outcomes

This presentation design and storytelling course will:

  • Offer best practices for finding data narratives.
  • Explain chart types and for which purpose each is best suited.
  • Address best practices for designing strong data-driven slides.

Course Overview

Data can be overwhelming and complicated. Often there is so much of it, it is difficult to isolate a message and tell a story in a meaningful way. This course is designed to make that process easier. The program is intended for people who present numbers and those who work behind the scenes crafting slides. The workshop offers best practices for finding plots, choosing storylines, targeting messages, and using compelling charts and graphs to support a narrative.

Program Objectives

At this program’s conclusion, participants should be able to:

  • Explain why bad slide design happens and how to prevent it.
  • Determine what is important to different audience groups.
  • Isolate messages in a data set.
  • Choose a message or series of messages to convey a compelling story.
  • Use analogies and examples to support a narrative.
  • Select the right chart for a message.
  • Demonstrate the ability to create charts with greater complexity than their presentation software’s default options.
  • Use labels and summaries effectively.
  • Avoid common mistakes when creating charts and graphs.

The following outline highlights some of the course’s key learning points. As part of your training program, we will modify content as needed to meet your business objectives. Upon request, we will provide you with a copy of the participant materials prior to the session(s).

Workshop Outline

Why Bad Slides Happen to Good People: Identifying Challenges

This program opens with a discussion around the purpose of data-driven stories, the challenges that most often arise in the creation process, and steps that can make the difference between a mess and a masterpiece. Working in teams, participants will answer a series of questions to set the agenda for the day.  Next, they will evaluate several slide stories and determine what about them works and what doesn’t.

Creating with Viewers in Mind: Understanding an Audience

Despite what data lovers may believe, not everyone is excited by numbers. In fact, some people cringe when faced with dozens of digits. This part of the program focuses on understanding an audience and speaking in a language that makes sense to them. Working in teams, the group will consider an audience for one of their presentations and compile a viewer profile using a series of questions provided by the facilitator. The purpose of this exercise is to help participants target their message at the right level and start and end in a place that neither over shares or under shares information.

Picking the Right Grains of Sand: Isolating Messages

This workshop segment looks at techniques for isolating messages and identifying plots and subplots. During this course component, participants will explore different types of stories data can tell: trend identification, correlation stories, outlier stories, changes over time, comparisons, and other narratives. Working with provided examples, participants will isolate a range of plots shown by each data set. Next, they will look at their own information and determine possible stories their data suggests.  

LEGO® Explains Analytics: Leveraging Analogies and Examples

People understand concepts that relate to ideas and information about which they already have a firm grasp. For that reason, analogies and examples can help presentation designers untangle complex data knots. In this part of the workshop, we will look at the various ways creators can leverage well-known ideas to explain numbers.

The Right Tool for the Right Task: Understanding What Charts Do What

Just as it doesn’t make much sense to use a hammer to make a cake, using the wrong kind of illustration to make a point doesn’t usually render optimal results. This part of the program takes a deep dive into graphs, charts, and the various ways presentation authors can use illustrations help their audiences understand data.

Labels and Summaries: Offering Viewers Help

While many charts tell stories on their own, designers can ensure their messages are clear by using labels and short summary sentences. In this seminar segment, we will explore best practices for making illustrations easier to digest.

Keeping It Honest: Avoiding the Lies Graphics Can Tell

It’s been said that when it’s manipulated correctly, data can tell half-hearted truths or even out-and-out lies. This course component examines tactics for avoiding deceit with data. In this final part of the program, participants will look at a range of deceitful charts and identify problems with each. Next, they will suggest ways to remedy the illustrations to tell a clearer and more accurate story.

By the conclusion of this course, participants should understand how to choose a compelling story from a sea of data; incorporate charts and graphs, and illustration to support their narratives; and leverage analogies and stories to make their information memorable and easier to understand.

Available Formats

  • Full-Day Training Course

Onsite Training Course Reminders

Our instructor-led training courses are available to private groups.  These workshops are not offered in a public seminar format.  Please contact us to speak with a facilitator about your needs and bringing training to your organization.

We offer training in the following US states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

We also travel to Africa, Australia and New Zealand, Asia, Canada, Central America, Continental Europe, the Middle East, and the United Kingdom.

Please contact us about your location.

Onsite Workshops