Practical Strategies for Data Storytelling


How can we influence decisions when our stakeholders are tired, busy, and distracted?

In this talk I'll share the strategies I've developed to build tight data stories that actually influence decisions.

When I led the Executive Insights team at Shopify, I quickly learned that attention is scarce. This is a human limitation - even the most engaged audiences can only hold focus for about twenty-five minutes. More often, I try to land my story in less than five minutes.

With practice, I developed tools to quickly build data stories that are easy to read and easy to share. This allows me to influence decisions at the executive level and throughout the company. For the last two years, I've honed these tools by running a Data Storytelling workshop for my peers at Shopify.

Now, I'll share these tools with you. Here's a sample of some of the strategies we'll discuss:

* The **1/5/15 minute rule**: build trust with your reader by making it clear whether your analysis is relevant to _them_.
* **Don't show your work**: data scientists want the data to do the talking, but end up weighing down their presentation with too much detail. I'll show you how to build a rigorous presentation without sacrificing readability.
* **Avoid the academic style** - a presentation is not a white paper. Understand your genre to write a great story.
* **Make a mess, clean it up** - writing is a two-stage process. Trying to do it all at once leads to writer's block and anxiety. Following this pattern will make writing easy (almost).

Telling a good story is critical to _impact_. Join me for thirty minutes to build your influence through better data storytelling.


Ryan Harter is a Senior Staff Data Scientist at Shopify. He helps executives make sense of their data so they can make great decisions quickly. Prior to Shopify, Ryan worked as a data scientist and data engineer at Google and Mozilla. Ryan loves getting questions and writes about data science at

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