Join Bill Shander for an in-depth discussion in this video KWYRWTS, part of Data Visualization: Storytelling.
- [Instructor] Some acronyms sound great, maybe they even sound kind of like what they represent, like NASA, it sounds kinda cool and techie and interesting, and YOLO sounds lighthearted and fun. And most good acronyms work because they're easy to pronounce and kinda stick in your head. Some acronyms aren't good at all when looked at through a traditional lens, and KWYRWTS definitely falls into this latter category, bad acronym, I admit it, But it's such an important idea that I have to say it anyway.
KWYRWTS stands for Know What You Really Want To Say. This is the secret to all good communications. I hadn't defined it yet when I created my data visualization fundamentals course, but I did talk about it in my data visualization for data analysts course. There is no more important lesson for any communicator. Seriously, if you remember nothing else from anything I've ever said, just remember this. If you're trying to communicate something to someone, how can you do it if you don't know what you're trying to say? Yes, it's so obvious as to be absurd to have to say it out loud, but it's really not so obvious that everyone remembers it.
In fact, I would argue that even professional communicators more often than not forget this core principle. I cannot tell you how many times I've had clients come to me and say, "Hey, Bill, can you take this data "and make something cool with it?" And I say, "Sure, what are you trying to say? "What's the story in the data?" Nine times out of 10, or at least seven out of 10, their answer is, "I'm not really sure." This isn't good. You have to get the actual message together before you can tell a story. There really is nothing more important. This is an important point.
I'm being careful about how I phrase this. I started by saying, "Know what you want to say", but it's more than that. You also have to know what your data is saying. It's really important in data storytelling to acknowledge that you can't just decide what your message is and then go find data that supports your message. That's dishonest, and even if your intentions are good, you will find data to support your position, possibly ignoring data that contradicts it, again even subconsciously. You need to know what you want to focus on, but you need to really investigate the data and discover what stories are available to you in your data.
On top of that, you're not communicating in a vacuum. You also have to be aware of what your audience needs to know. Using these three handy-dandy acronyms, these terrible handy-dandy but great acronyms, try to get to the single idea or the fives ideas of the eight ideas you need to communicate. Know which is the most important and which is the least, have your core message and thoughts organized, then tell the story around those concepts. It's really much, much easier when you do it this way. There's no more important concept in communications of any kind, and I honestly believe it can't be stressed enough.
I hope you can use this as a sort of mantra in all of your work. So one example of a really good use of KWYRWTS is this report here, the Gl;obal Brand S;implic:ity In:dex 2015 from Siegel+Gale. And you know if you look at it, even in the word, it's all about simplicity. It's looking at brand simplicity and how different brands compare to each other using simplicity as a measuring stick. And essentially the idea is that simplicity pays is what the argument is, that simple brands, brands that are simple and use simplicity well, are actually more successful.
And so I wanted to go through and look at this and say first of all if simplicity is in the name of this report, are they doing a good job? Are they living the brand of what they're talking about? And from a design standpoint this report is very simple. You know it's very simple colors and font choices, et cetera, but when we get into the data, I really wanted to look at it, is this telling a simple story? Have they gotten to KWYRWTS here? Do they have a core idea they're communicating? And so, yes, the very first data that we see here, Simplicity by the Numbers. And so you see at the very top on the left-hand side here, "Since 2009, a stock portfolio comprised of the publicly "traded simplest brands in our Global Top 10 "has outperformed the major indexes." So their story is very straightforward.
Brands that are simpler do better. A very simple idea. They definitely have a know what you really want to say approach to the is data. As I go through the report, they are talking about a lot of different things, so they look at the data from different angles. So I can see the perennially simple brands, or the featured disrupter brands, and if I keep going through, there are other aspects to this, some of which I'm going to skip over quickly. But the point is that as you go through the data here, it's all about the same idea. It's all about this idea of simplicity, so they have the Global Simplicity Index.
All of the brands globally and how they measure on whatever this measurement is that they're using to describe whether a brand is simple, yes or no, and how they're ranked. As I go through I can see the Top 10 Global Brands. As I go through I can see the Bottom 10, by the way which was interesting. They sort of call out the top 10 and the bottom 10. They look at industries. How simple are different industries? Internet search is very simple. General insurance is not simple at all, et cetera, et cetera. But in the end, it's KWYRWTS. They knew what they really wanted to say. It's all about simplicity, even though they look at it from many, many different directions.
It's not a simplistic story, right, but it is simple which is really important. Great example of getting a lot of data communicated in a very straightforward way because they had a very clear idea of what they really wanted to talk about, what they really wanted to say.
Join data visualization expert Bill Shander as he guides you through the process of turning "facts and figures" into "story" to engage and fulfill our human expectation for information. This course is intended for anyone who works with data and has to communicate it to others, whether a researcher, a data analyst, a consultant, a marketer, or a journalist. Bill shows you how to think about, and craft, stories from data by examining many compelling stories in detail.
- Creating a narrative structure for data
- Applying narrative to data
- Identifying what you want to say with the data
- Analyzing what your data is saying
- Determining what your audience needs to hear
- Leveraging tables, charts, and visuals
- Ensuring your narrative provides context and direction