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Data on why your data needs storytelling

When selecting topics for my blog, I prefer to share evidence. But we have to be careful... data doesn't speak for itself. Context is crucial and the best way to provide it is by telling a story--especially a story that makes people feel something. 

Forbes: Data Storytelling, 2016-Mar-31 by Brent Dykes

Memorability: A study by Stanford professor Chip Heath (Made to Stick author) found 63% could remember stories, but only 5% could remember a single statistic. While 2.5 statistics were used on average in the exercise and only 10% of the participants incorporated a story, the stories are what caught people’s attention.

Persuasiveness: In another study, researchers tested two variations of a brochure for the Save the Children charity organization. The story-based version outperformed the infographic version by $2.38 to $1.14 in terms of per participant donations. Various statistics on the plight of African children were far less persuasive than the story of Rokia, a seven-year-old from Mali, Africa.

Engagement: Researchers also discovered people enter into a trance-like state, where they drop their intellectual guard and are less critical and skeptical. Rather than nitpicking over the details, the audience wants to see where the story leads them. As mathematician John Allen Paulos observed, “In listening to stories we tend to suspend disbelief in order to be entertained, whereas in evaluating statistics we generally have an opposite inclination to suspend belief in order not to be beguiled.”

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