Three things great data storytellers do differently

By Jake Porway, founder and executive director of DataKind, for Stanford Social Innovation Review

How can data be used to both humanize our work and demonstrate robust social impact?

How can we use data to tell a story without bogging down our audience with numbers and statistics?

How can people be inspired by data?

These are just a few of the nearly 200 questions that represent a mix asked in a survey before Porway’s talk at SSIR’s Data on Purpose conference.

At DataKind, Porway and his colleagues use data science and algorithms in the service of humanity, and believe that communicating about the work by using data for social impact is just as important as the work itself. There’s nothing worse than findings gathering dust in an unread report.

At DataKind, staff believes projects should always start with a question. It’s clear from the questions above and others that the art of data storytelling needs some demystifying. But rather than answering each question individually, Porway poses a broader question to help get at some of the essentials: What do great data storytellers do differently and what can we learn from them?

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