When Data Meets Story - Why business storytelling is the key to compelling technical presentations

When Data Meets Story - Why business storytelling is the key to compelling technical presentations

If you love presenting data, then you’ll love business storytelling. Why? Because stories are the best way to get across an experience in a relatable way to your customers.

When you add a story to your data, you can simplify your material in a way that offers greater meaning, interpretation, and insight.

When you incorporate a narrative dimension to your data, you will make your analysis more relevant and interesting.  

If data excites you (but possibly not those on the receiving end), if you include narrative you will reach out in a way that increases your chances of creating a spark of excitement in others too.

Business Storytelling: Data is only data until you add a story, then it becomes data that people care about.

When you are creating the story to partner with your data, here are some questions to consider.

  • What can I do to help decision making?
  • What does my data describe?
  • And how is that relevant on a larger scale?
  • Or to put it simply, why should others care about the data?

A good story takes people on an emotional journey where the protagonist is taken out of the ordinary world into the unknown to face challenge and conflict.

The monomyth or the Hero’s journey is the best-known story structure. In a nutshell,  the hero is called to set off on a journey, leaving the familiar known territory (the ordinary world) and enters the unknown (special world). It is during this part of the journey that the hero faces uncertainty, challenge, and adventure. At some point in the journey, the hero meets a significant mentor and exchange of wisdom and learning takes place. This knowledge transfer may be in the form of a new skill or teaching, or perhaps a tool or way of being. The hero is now transformed and empowered with this new knowledge, the hero returns with the ‘elixir’ (new skill/tool) back into the old world and shares their newfound wisdom with others.

If you love data here’s five reasons why learning to tell stories will change the way you present:

  1. Data helps people to come to a decision, and when you are presenting data, your goal is to move someone to action.  By adding a story layer to your material, you will increase the level of trust and influence. People will care about why your data is essential and how it relates to them. You will draw people in with your business storytelling rather than push them out.
  2. When you add a story to your data,  you can combine the analysis and evidence along with the human element. A great story is evidence of a transformation, and when you can include characters and context, you will bring your data to life. As a technical presenter, if you share a story that includes narrative and analysis, you can connect with your listeners at the same time as demonstrating your credibility.
  3. It can take time and effort to share data. A visual story or metaphor, as well as spoken word business storytelling, will enhance your data by cutting through quickly and will make your data instantly look more compelling to customers. This may include an oral story or a visual story.  When you add the ‘human face’ to the data and weave this through, there is no doubt that you will reach people faster.
  4. Stories provoke thought. When you can tell a story about your data, you are inviting others to reflect on how the content relates to them, and in doing so, creating a shared empathy – a reason for others to want to know more about your business. Every great story has a shape, a structure and characters. When your characters are everyday heroes who are realistic and relatable, other people can imagine themselves in your story. Even better, when you create an “ah-ha’ moment, something for the audience to learn or take out from your data. You will spark action.
  5. A good story well-told is memorable. When you wrap a story around your data, you will create a way for your listeners to not only remember, but also repeat your findings. Another way to help your business storytelling stand out is to leverage metaphors. The metaphor you chose will reflect how you want your audience to think about your data or facts.

When you tell your business’ story aim to bring the characters to life, a masterful storyteller will make use of voice, body and emotion to create a compelling narrative that is hard to forget. Have fun weaving stories throughout your data.

Lisa Evans, MBA is the Director of Speaking Savvy and the Founder/Curator of Stories From The Heart. An award-winning speaker, Certified World Class Speaking and Storytelling Coach, TEDx Speaker Coach, Author and Improvisation Actor, Lisa works with leaders to mine, refine and deliver captivating stories for their business and brand. Whether it is the boardroom, platform, podium or stage, Lisa will help you craft a powerful presentation with compelling business stories that are hard to forget.