Marketing & Tech Book Club: DataStory by Nancy Duarte

CEO of Duarte, Inc., communication expert and award-winning author, Nancy Duarte reveals the importance of marrying our analytical and storytelling skills together in order to thrive in our data driven industries in her best-selling book, DataStory.

Marketing & Tech Book Club Nancy Duarte

We manage to steal a few moments of Nancy’s time to talk about the communication tactics that inspired the latest release. Duarte knows data. But presenting it well, she reveals, is about more than just the numbers. Nancy takes us through understanding your audience, writing the data story to becoming the storyteller.


Understanding Your Audience

The first nugget of advice we received from Nancy was to “understand who you’re communicating to.” Unsurprisingly, this is already making sense. You wouldn’t read a murder mystery to your kids at bedtime, and I doubt you’re tucking yourself up with a copy of ‘The hungry caterpillar’ before bed. So, before you start to write your story – you should probably think about who you’re going to be reading it to, to ensure you’re going to be heard.

In order to understand your Exec a little better, Nancy lets us in on 3 things every Executive is measured on in the office:

  1. Money
  2. The market
  3. Exposure

If the data in your report doesn’t relate to these 3 things, your report doesn’t belong on their desk.

Writing The Story

The hardest part about presenting data, is not about the numbers. It’s making people care about them. When done right, this is where the magic happens. Nancy tells us that it’s not enough to simply be a “data-centric type” equally, it’s not enough to just be a creative. We need to marry the two to create a compelling data story.

When writing our data story, we need to constantly be referring back to point number 1: ‘Understanding your audience’. A great way that Nancy advises us to do this is by connecting our data to a familiar sense of scale.

For example, if we were to tell you Apple sold 66 million iPhones in 2019 you might find it difficult to dissect that figure. But if we created a relatable comparison and told you that Apple sold 66 million iPhones last year – which is the equivalent to the entire UK population, it puts the figure into perspective and makes it more memorable.

Becoming the Storyteller

So, you know your audience, you’ve written your story and now you have to tell it. We ask Nancy if she has any top tips for presenting data stories with stage fright. She tells us that nervous knots and butterflies in your stomach are a natural human reaction, also known as fight or flight.

Nancy tells us that the key here is to stick to your natural reaction. So, whether you need to fire up some sprints in your suit to get your adrenaline pumping or sit quietly in a corner, listen to yourself and prepare in the way that feels the most natural to you.

If you’re on the hunt for more top marketing books to read to kick the year off with a bang, check out our Best Marketing Books 2021.

2021 top marketing books