Course Outcomes

This data storytelling course for people who must communicate with numbers will:

  • Familiarize participants with a chart vocabulary.
  • Suggest a methodology for finding a narrative that’s appropriate for the intended audience.
  • Offer best practices for choosing brain-friendly words and visuals.
  • Share best practices for delivering data stories.

Course Overview

The amount of data created, captured, duplicated, and digested has grown by 30-fold in the last decade. And whether we’re delighted by or drowning in it, most of us could use some help developing and delivering compelling data stories. This course is designed for people who regularly present data and want to understand best practices for crafting and delivering stronger narratives. Segment one addresses the purposes data can achieve and the mechanics of charts. The second segment introduces the story-building process. The program’s final segment focuses on best practices for delivering a data story.

Segment One Objectives

  • Describe how data can be used reactively, proactively, or predictively.
  • Discuss three types of decisions people make with data.
  • Explain the difference between data visualization and visual storytelling.
  • Follow graphical perception best practices.
  • Choose an appropriate chart type.
  • Avoid common chart creation errors.
  • Check charts for 508 compliance.

Segment One Modules

  • What Data Can and Can’t Do: Understanding the Landscape
  • Apples and Oranges: Visualizations Versus Visual Storytelling
  • Your Brain on Charts: Recognizing How People Process Visuals
  • Charts and Parts: Understanding What Different Charts Do
  • Chart Junk: Avoiding Garbage

Segment Two Objectives

  • Explain five levels of data literacy.
  • Plan for different types of audiences.
  • Create presentation goals.
  • Explain how the brain reacts to stories.
  • Describe common narrative structures.
  • Identify the characters in a story.
  • Determine the question or problem the story is solving.
  • Use several devices to tell a compelling story.
  • Articulate a data set’s backstory.
  • Determine what should be included on slides and what should go somewhere else.

Segment Two Modules

  • Fluency: Speaking to Five Levels of Data Literacy
  • Are You Talking to Me?: Understanding Audiences
  • Finding a Narrative: Choosing a Plot
  • What a Character: Casting People, Place, and Events as Actors
  • Eureka!: Techniques for Helping People Get It
  • Backstories: Explaining the Data Source
  • Off the Deck: Using Handouts, Summaries, and Reports

Segment Three Objectives

  • Focus an audience from word one.
  • Choose strong verbs.
  • Present complicated information without overwhelming an audience.
  • Follow a this-slide-is-telling-us format.
  • Zoom in and zoom out.
  • Use repetition appropriately.
  • Leverage blocking and movement to emphasize messages.

Segment Three Modules

  • Set the Stage: Framing the Stories
  • Words Matter: Letting Language Do Some of the Lifting
  • Visual Effects: Enhancing the Message with Blocking
  • The End: Concluding with Purpose

By the conclusion of this three-part virtual course, participants should be able to tell a compelling data story.