Data analysts’ three misconceptions of storytelling

I asked Fern Halper, director at TDWI Research, what misconceptions data analysts have about data storytelling. She and I wrote a report last fall for TDWI Research on data storytelling, and she was the data analyst on that team.

1. That data storytelling is easier that it really is. That sounds right to me. After all, everyone knows how to tell a story, don’t they? Sure, just like everyone knows how to analyze data, at least if you have a tool that’s “easy to use.”

2. That people care about the details. That rings true, too. As we said in the report, some do and some don’t. Fern recalls a vice president at AT&T early in her career. He said, “Just tell me something that is 80 percent correct.” For him, good enough was good enough. She says now, “What I too down in the weeds? Probably.”

3. That a data story is a presentation. A data story shares some characteristics of a presentation but it’s much more than that — far too much to summarize here. Go read the report.


  1. Ted Cuzzillo says:

    Thanks, and and thanks for the heads-up about the bad link. (The link seems to work only if you’re logged in.) The report is still available, here. It’s the first item listed.

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