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Data Storytelling: When and how to communicate your data in stories

Updated: 4 days ago

MindSpeaking Podcast Episode 4 - Brent Dykes, Author, Founder and Chief Data Storyteller at AnalyticsHero

▶️ Watch the podcast with video on YouTube:


0:00:00 Introduction

0:00:24 Introduction of Guest

0:02:11 Brent in high school

0:03:36 Marketing: Fluffy Business Area?

0:06:56 Influence with Storytelling

0:08:19 How Data Professionals Foster their Curiosity

0:11:37 How to reach senior people

0:15:53 Data Storytelling

0:20:50 Mindset Shift

0:31:18 Benefits From Data Storytelling

0:39:44 Role of Presentation Skills in Data Storytelling

0:47:26 Brent's Book

0:55:34 Rapid Fire Round

1:02:13 Where to follow Brent Dykes

1:04:10 Conclusion

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Introducing Brent Dykes

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Hi Brent, welcome! I'm so excited to talk to you again. Because we share a passion in data storytelling. And of course, that's what we're going to talk about today. But I also want to know a bit more about you, because I think that's also what people are interested in. And before we dive into your career, I want to go back a bit more going back to your childhood. And I'm curious because we speak about it a lot about development, personal development on this podcast.

What type of person was Brent Dykes in high school?

Brent Dykes: I was probably a nerd. I was probably socially awkward. I really just wanted to survive high school. I didn't really enjoy high school I you know, I did okay, in my classes, I got these. I didn't really apply myself. And I really just wanted to move on from high school so I don't have fond memories of high school. I think the more I survive, I just don't stand out. Don't don't do anything. You know, silly don't do anything that's gonna get you picked on or anything like that. Just survive, you know, and so I I did a lot of computer gaming. I liked you know, playing with my Commodore 64 And, and that was probably a big thing. I enjoyed skiing. So I go skiing. I grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. And so often we go skiing. I love hockey. I wasn't a hockey player though. I wish I could say I was a hockey player. I did not get tall until I was in 12th grade. So that didn't really help my channel.

Marketing: Fluffy Business Area

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: So and and after you you started to your dad, you started your career. Now you talked a lot about data storytelling. But actually your background is in marketing, right? You you write to your LinkedIn profile that you're deep down, you're still a marketer. And what I find interesting about that is what what I would like to understand is because many people in day two, I think marketing is a fluffy business area or it doesn't really matter. I've seen those comments in the past on LinkedIn and other areas. What are your thoughts on that?

Brent Dykes: Yeah, well, when I started when I was in the last, you know, year or two of my, of my studies, studying business administration, at Simon Fraser University in Canada, and I was deciding between accounting and marketing, and I was good at accounting, which for most people, that would be Oh, that you definitely go into accounting because there's to save career. You're not going to have too many issues finding a job. Whereas I think that perception that marketing is a little bit more fluffy, a little bit more squishy, and probably not as safe and option but I really wasn't passionate about counting other people's money. And so I decided to go into marketing because I really, the one thing that I really enjoyed I joined a lot of my psychology classes and I liked how psychology overlaps with marketing and consumer behavior. And they apply a lot of these psychology kind of principles there. And so that really appealed to me. I love that that part of it.

My dad was in public relations, and so I got a little bit of exposure, indirectly to marketing. And at the time, honestly, data wasn't really a big thing with marketing. The only discipline within marketing that you could actually play with data was in market research. And I was talking to another person who graduated with a marketing degree at the same time as I did and her professor told her how do you want to make the least amount of money in marketing go into market research? And yet with that was probably I would say, that's pretty, pretty fair assessment of where dated marketing was at the time.

However, I would say once I got into marketing, and I did an MBA, I got into digital analytics or web analytics as it was called at the time. And that was really where marketers now had lots of data on their campaigns, lots of data on their SEO, lots of data on all of the marketing channels. And even today, I mean, marketers have so much data, so much, so many numbers to play with and to analyze and hopefully tell data stories. But that was that was a transformation for me because I could apply all of the stuff I love around marketing with confidence. And so getting into marketing analytics or digital analytics for me was was a godsend because I was able to pair those two interests together and then that's what started me down the path of data storytelling, because at the end of the day, yeah, you can have an insight but if you're not able to communicate that insight effectively, or clearly, then that's, you know, no action will be taken on that.

Influence with Storytelling

Gilbert Eijkelenboom: Psychology interest and knowledge you've built over the years. can also come in handy while telling stories with data and talking to stakeholders to understand how to make their decisions and holiday. How you can influence them with with storytelling.

Brent Dykes: Absolutely. I would say when I started getting into to analytics I may have looked past a lot of the psychology of decision making and how that influences us and how we look at data and process it and so it was almost like a renaissance or you know, a rejuvenation of the psychology aspects because as I was writing my book, I realize a lot of people would say, Oh, do this or do that. It because it works. In my mind, I think I'm curious, but why why does it work that way? And that was part of you know, what I wanted to get into with my book is I want to understand why these things work the way they do. Why is it good to tell stories wise, why are visuals effective? Why do we sometimes ignore the data, just trust our gut, in a wire these things? Why do we work this way? And I think that was an important thing to look into and understand because at the end of the day, we want people to take action on our insights and we can't commit connect with them or if you can't communicate your ideas effectively. Then, again, like I said earlier, our insights will go.