2. EVERYONE CAN BE A STORYTELLER

As data visualisation expert Stephen Few said: ‘Numbers have an important story to tell. They rely on you to give them a clear and convincing voice.’ The good news is that we are all naturally geared up to produce stories. Not convinced? Let’s try and see.

Can you answer the following questions: why did Sharon weep? Why did she go hungry? You may have deduced that Sharon wept because Fred died. Or even that Fred went to a grocery store and that’s why Sharon went hungry. Read again. Couldn’t ‘He’ be John or Arthur instead of Fred? Is Sharon really weeping because of Fred’s death or could she be sad for another reason?

If you have linked those facts it’s because the brain, by default, creates a story from a series of events even if they are unrelated. Scientists are particularly familiar with the dangers of this cognitive bias and seek to negate its influence. By applying the mantra ‘correlation does not imply causation’, they avoid the temptation to assume that two events occurring together have established a cause-and-effect relationship.

MORE

The emotional connexion. Be more like Donald Trump

Tracking down the unicorn: a live example

The 3C rules: Choose a message, contextualise, compare

The magic 8 questions to help you create a storytelling

The cherry on top:

title and details

A sad story: when

data is not enough