Storytelling: Breathing life into facts & figures

Storytelling isn’t about facts and figures but facts and figures can help tell a compelling story.

Charts and graphs present static information but alone, that information is incomplete. Almost always there are human lives that are impacted by those numbers. Your goal is to not just share facts and figures but to weave them seamlessly into human stories as to convey concepts and experience.

Here are three ways to breathe life into otherwise static numbers.

1 ) Attach a real life name and face (or several) to the numbers. It’s one thing to say, “We saw X new cases of Y in 2016” but that number becomes much more relatable when accompanied by a story of at least one or two people who are affected by it. In sales no one cares that you sold $1 million worth of widgets last year, but they will empathize with Mary Jones whose quality of life drastically improved because she purchased one of those widgets, “and here’s how.….”

2) Associate the numbers with a real world point of reference or visual that makes sense in day-to-day terms. How many Olympic sized swimming pools does X amount of Y fill? How many fit on the head of a needle? How much of this would it take to do that? And don’t be afraid to use mundane objects or situations in your examples or comparisons; the more mundane, the more relatable and memorable they are to your very human audience, no matter how uppity or stoic they may appear. They’re people. They get it.

3) Make numbers practical and actionable to your audience’s daily lives. Again, no matter how seemingly technical or impersonal the numbers may appear alone, at some point, human lives are impacted; make those numbers practical and actionable and they will not soon be forgotten.

Breathe life into facts & figures by making them personal and practical, and they’ll exhale a receptive audience.

Originally published on Medium