I coach clients to choose stories that support a point, that supplement data and that make data come alive.
But not always.
The image above is, of course, Hans Rossling presenting data. It comes from the Superflux blog And Hans has a wonderful ability to present data – but in this case to a TED audience who respond well to his particular style of data wrapping.
Sometimes an audience is different.
It expects the data, thinks in terms of data, has an inbuilt radar that rejects the stories behind it as irrelevant.
Sometimes, the data tells its own story. It builds engagement on its own because both presenter and audience know the story behind it. It is a language, a communication, all of its own.
For that audience, probably, stories will have their place, but the story placement will need to be very judiciously chosen, using criteria that are very different from those for an audience, say, that needs to have data wrapped up in story… or the visualisation that Hans Rossling has made his own!
Quick tip? … as always … know your audience… and for me as a coach – part of the coaching process it to remind clients to check in mentally with the culture in which they will be speaking.