Once you’ve determined the data at the heart of your story, the next step is to identify what is happening to that data. If your metrics are the characters in the story, then your analysis will unveil the plot. What is the history of the data, what is it today, and can you tell where it will go in the future? Answering these questions forms the backbone of your data story.
Data Analysis [ The Plot Thickens ]
What are the trends?
Now that you have the data, what is it saying? Frequently the data can be surprising; metrics that should be show stoppers don’t say much at all and metrics that seem innocuous can unlock a tidal wave of questions. The key is to quantify how the data has changed and investigate why these changes have occurred. This investigation will help you truly uncover which metrics are your stars, or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which metrics play supporting roles, and which metrics end up on the editing room floor. [ Analysis paralysis? ]
Call the SWOT Team
The final piece to your analysis is translating the trend into something meaningful for your organization. Performing a SWOT (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats) Analysis based on the trends you’ve uncovered will take your data off the page and into action. What does the data say about the success of current initiatives? Did you identify any opportunities for improved efficiency? Did the data unearth any concerns?
You Do the Math
Assemble any meaningful statistics from your data. Can you determine any rates of completion, percentages of goals achieved, or ratio of return? Identifying compelling insights will help you write attention getting headlines. You should also consider benchmarking data because it can help create a compelling storyline. How well are you performing compared to your peers and what percentage ahead/behind are you?
Reporting [ Tell Your Story ]
When you have your data and analysis assembled, it’s time to create your story. It’s important to set up your analysis effectively. Consider the objective of your story as well as the perspective of your audience. Lay your story out in a way that is logical and also builds towards your story’s objective. Be sure to include any background or historical information that clarifies your outcomes and leverage visuals and charts that drive your points home.
Who Are the Stars?
Make sure your stars shine. You may need to define some of your metrics or explain how they’re obtained. It’s important to include enough information to support your story without distracting your listeners by introducing information that may derail the plot. Only include what is essential to supporting your objective.
Be Ready for Questions/Criticism
There will always be questions and critics. Anticipating questions and having supporting data nearby will put you in the best position to respond. Having well informed responses on standby will give confidence to the story and support whatever next steps you suggest.
Learn more about storytelling with data.