AoF 39: DataStory: Explain Data and Inspire Action Through Story w/ Nancy Duarte

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When it comes to effective presentations and engaging an audience, what questions should you ask to tell your story about data? It’s time to take action and learn!

Nancy Duarte joins me as today’s guest to discuss her new book, DataStory: Explain Data and Inspire Action Through Story. Some of you may already know Nancy from her 2012 TED Talk titled, The Secret Structure of Great Talks.

“Data is becoming a very common communication language that didn’t have a real clear wrapper around it about how to frame it.” [09:27]



This exciting season of AOF is sponsored by our BI Data Storytelling Mastery Accelerator 3-Day Live workshop. Our next workshop on January 28-30, 2020 is now open for registration at a special early bird rate! Consider upgrading to the VIP option for extras including access to our online course. Many BI teams are still struggling to deliver consistent, high-engaging analytics their users love. At the end of three days, you’ll leave with a clear BI delivery action plan. Register today!

3 Knowledge Bombs

  • Nancy on Narratives - Use tried and true structures and patterns to communicate stories that can be easily recalled and retold.
  • Nancy on Leadership - Communication skills are necessary to make a claim, take a stance, take action, and develop points of view about data to become a trusted advisor.
  • Nancy on Three-Act Structure - Act 1 is situation; Act 2 is complication; and Act 3 is resolution.

In this episode, you'll learn:

  • [08:10]  - Inspiration behind DataStory: Normal people need help with data, too.
  • [09:10]  - Key Quote: Data had been slowing us down, instead of speeding us up. We didn’t have a mechanism to communicate data - Nancy Duarte
  • [10:00]  - Defining Narrative: Transforming numbers into narratives by using tried and true structures of stories to observe what’s happening in listeners’ brains.
  • [11:30]  - Soft vs, Technical Skills: What you need to know and who to hire in data industry.
  • [14:40]  - Obsessed with creating charts? True storytelling is what you say, what you write, and what you speak.
  • [15:00]  - Why written and spoken communication are important: Problem or opportunity that needs to be communicated for action to be taken and a decision to be made.
  • [19:45]  - Take Action: Start with empathy, determine who the humans are in data, and create influential communication to change human behavior.
  • [21:55]  - Drawing Conclusions: Nancy describes difference between visualizing data vs transforming numbers.
  • [23:13]  - Do Something: Make a claim or take a stance about data to progress from being an individual contributor to trusted advisor.
  • [24:20]  - Key Quote: You still have to take action from what you’re finding. It takes some intuition and some gut. - Nancy Duarte.
  • [30:33]  - Three-Act Structure: Act 1 is situation; Act 2 is complication; and Act 3 is resolution.
  • [33:40]  - Right-Brain, Left-Brain Dilemma: Different ways/modalities we think and create.
  • [40:00]  - Performance vs. Process: Select action verbs depending on data point of view.
  • [45:55]  - Obstacles and Challenges: Become a better storyteller and stronger communicator by making time to practice and think.
  • [52:00]  - Nancy’s Advice: Never give up, keep going, and don’t be afraid to stop and play.
  • Right-click here and save-as to download this episode to your computer.

“There’s visualizing data, and there’s communicating data.” [22:47]

Links and Resources mentioned in this episode:

  • Check out Nancy Duarte's top resources!

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BI Data Storytelling Online Live Accelerator​

3-Day 100% Virtual Workshops with Mico & team! Oct 20-22, 2020 | Feb 16-18, 2021 

Mico Yuk

Mico Yuk

As the Co-founder and CEO of BI Brainz, I've been in the Business Intelligence/Analytics industry since 2009. Trained 10K+ using our methodologies and frameworks! I love our amazing team and community! I share my passion for data to 20,000+ followers via the Analytics on Fire Podcast, our BI Brainz academy, blog, social media, global keynotes, training, and workshops. Our model is simple. We take what is successful for our customers and teach it! I'm a bonafide beach bum on days off!
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