Let's begin with an article that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) at the end of last year. Narrative vs Evidence-Based Medicine—And, Not Or was written by Zachary Meisel and in it he said: "Scientific reports are genuinely dispassionate, characterless, and ahistorical. But their translation and dissemination should not be. Stories are an essential part of how individuals understand and use evidence."
Data is supposed to be cold and objective; but the dissemination of your data can be warm and subjective. So go ahead, tell a story with your data. Because if you don't, you run the risk of falling behind. As Meisel continued: "Those who espouse only evidence—without narratives about real people—struggle to control the debate. Typically, they lose."
It’s become pretty much axiomatic these days that if you're really serious about getting your data across to your audience, you need to tell a story with it. Stories are more engaging and convincing than mere data. If you want to influence someone’s behaviour you need to touch their heartstrings and move them to tears. And you won't do that if you only engage their logical left brains. No, you also need to impose yourself on their creative and emotional right brains.
Which all sounds promising and exciting, but we need to remember that it's data we’re talking about here. Data is logical and soul-less and is usually a collection of seemingly disconnected facts. How are we going to fit that into a story?
Love this article with good ideas for keeping storytelling with data sweet and simple.
Thanks Gregg Morris @greggvm and his Story and Narrative curation for originally finding this post!
Via Gregg Morris, Karen Dietz