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How To Get Started With Data Storytelling

by | Sep 1, 2022

Data storytelling has been rapidly gaining relevance in the last few years. And while it looks simple, relaying a message through a dataset isn’t an easy task. But with data storytelling, an audience is able to grasp a message easily and fully, allowing critical information to be delivered. On top of this, Gartner states that data storytelling is likely to be the most common way of consuming analytics by 2025. 

Read on to find out more about data storytelling and how you can get started.

What is Data Storytelling?

To put it simply, data storytelling is all about translating datasets into digestible messages for your audience. This is done through visualisations and narratives, using tools such as Infogram, Tableau, and RAWGraphs. However, data storytelling is much more than just making visualisations and infographics. 

As Forbes puts it in their article titled: ‘Data Storytelling: The Essential Data Science Skill Everyone Needs’, it’s about combining data, visuals and narrative to explain insights found through datasets. These insights are then told through visually appealing insights. With both insights and visuals combined, the data storyteller’s audience will be engaged – which can then help to make decisions and create change. 

Examples of Data Storytelling- Subheading 

A local example of a company using data storytelling would be The Straits Times, who uses data stories frequently to deliver impactful news stories. 

For instance, in their online article titled: “Tiger Mum’s guide to getting your 6-year-old into the ‘right’ school”, they make use of various visualisations, icons and charts to explain how competitive school slots are, and how fast schools get filled up. With this data story, parents are able to understand how competitive the slots are for schools, and what factors come into play when choosing schools for their children. 

“Can You Live on the Minimum Wage”’, an article done by The New York Times, is also an example of a good data story. With this story, readers are able to make choices on how much they would spend a month on basic necessities like housing, utilities, healthcare, and transportation alongside a visualisation that shows them how much money they would have left over for the year. Through the interactivity and easy-to-understand visualisations, readers are easily able to understand that it is not possible to live on minimum wage. 

Tools You Need For Data Storytelling

To get started on data storytelling, be sure to familiarise with the following tools (not exhaustive):


With Tableau, you’ll be able to add datasets and create a variety of charts and tables, which can then be used in your data story.


Shorthand is a digital storytelling platform that allows you to create interactive data stories – with no coding required. 

Microsoft Excel 

Before you get started on designing and creating your story, organise and sift out your data with Microsoft Excel – a tool that will come in handy for multiple data-related skills. 

Data Storytelling vs Data Visualisation 

It may be hard to differentiate the two as they both sound and are defined in similar ways. And while these two skills are interlinked, they are also different in multiple ways. For starters, let’s define data visualisation. Data visualisation is about creating a visual from data or pieces of information. This visual could be represented in a chart or a map, in order to make it easier for the audience to identify trends and anomalies. 

The best way to think of it is that data visualisation is a subset of data storytelling. With data storytelling, the visualisation expands and an overall picture is painted. The storytelling portion helps to enhance the visualisation and provide value to an audience, helping them make decisions with their newfound larger, holistic view of the intended message. 

Tips For Getting Started on Data Storytelling 

To get started on data storytelling, be sure to familiarise yourself with the tools mentioned above. You could also choose to take up a course on data storytelling in order to certify your expertise. On top of getting certified, you should also aim to connect with those in the data storytelling industry, in order to further learn from them and also possibly receive feedback on your work. 

What To Look Out For In A Data Storytelling Course or Workshop

If you’re looking to learn data storytelling, here are some questions you should have in mind for when you’re researching for a course or workshop to take: 

  1. Is there a certification at the end of the course/workshop to certify my experience? 
  2. Are there other reputable courses taught by the course owners? 
  3. Are there subsidies available to help with course fees? 
  4. Is the course being taught by industry experts?
  5. Is the course outline listed on the website? 

These questions will help to guide you in choosing a course that will provide you a comprehensive learning on data storytelling. For more information on data storytelling and Tableau, check out our blog post: “Why Learn Data Storytelling Using Tableau?

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