September 12, 2016

Success Through Data Storytelling

Post by: Barry Massoudi


There are many ways to craft a narrative, but none are as effective in business as storytelling. Storytelling is a conversation form that conveys a meaning to the listener, and compels the listener to take an action. Good stories stir an individual’s emotions, garner their attention, and motivates the individual to act.

Following are seven success factors for effective storytelling:

Know Your Audience

It has become a cliché, but without knowing your audience, you cannot design an effective and compelling story with the desired impact on your audience. Understanding your audience is tantamount to creating trust. What your audience is trying to achieve? What pain-points they are trying to remove? What is the audience’s goal: save money, seek ease of use, gain greater returns on their investment?

There are several ways to collect information about the audience. Market research can reveal their preferences, uncover the pain-points, or highlight issues that need resolution. You can craft your advice to help your audience avoid certain pitfalls that face them. Better understanding of socioeconomic, demographic and business situation can help you fine tune your message and highlighting the importance your story to the audience. Understanding how the listener will benefit from your story is important in creating value and yield the expected results.

Define the Key Takeaway

The key takeaway is what’s important in the story. It’s the message that you want your audience to remember after the interaction. Everything included in the story is designed to reinforce this key takeaway. A coherent story cannot be a series of strung together events. The story must be built around your key takeaway. The key takeaway is not what you want to sell. If it is, then you are just doing a blatant sales job. The key takeaway is the reason that the audience must care to listen to your story and the key reason they must act. Your entire story is built around that single key takeaway. If your takeaway resonates with your audience, then they will heed to your call to action.

Using Paradigms to Bond

Paradigms or examples help the audience connect with your story. Paradigms help bring your story to life. It helps your audience find meaning by seeing themselves in the story. Paradigms bring out the emotional response that you want to get. When the story connects emotionally, you keep the audience’s attention through the narration. As a result the audience will remember your story. Vivid examples supported by data make your audience want to sit and listen. Anecdotal evidence supports your point of view and brings it to life. Commentary from credible and respected individuals resonate with the audience. Paradigms include examples of successes and how life got better and goals were achieved.

Articulate a Call to Action

The call to action is what you want your audience to do something after hearing your story. It’s your recommendation to your audience. You must clearly articulate the call to action that you intend for your audience. You can ask your audience to evangelize a point of view, take follow up action such as make a call or be available for a meeting. Tell the audience about the size of the opportunity awaiting them if they act.

Set Yourself Apart

The story should help the storyteller set themselves apart from others and provide the audience with a reason they should care. If your audience shares your strategy, then you can begin to drive for a solution together, and they will respond to your suggestions and advice. That’s when you can motivate them to act with you. Frame your unique value. If your audience connects with your story, responds to your suggestions, and appreciates your advice, then you can begin to drive for a solution together.  This is when you can motivate the audience to act with you.

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