Presenting data as a story

We have all seen the 50 slide presentation or the 70 page report on the findings of the survey. This usually comprises a building block approach comprising, the introduction, the methods, the results and finally the discussion. Combined with this can be complex diagrams and dense tables of figures. If we are lucky we might get some recommendations.  If it's qualitative research then it's more likely you get a report comprising many quotes but little guidance on helping you make a decision. What this means for you is that it is you that has to put the building blocks together to see the full picture.

Researcher are however, realising that the narrative style of presenting research findings helps close the gap between the data and the decisions that need to be made.Shortening the chunks of information makes it easier for the key stakeholders to understand and act upon the information.

Of course we provide our clients with the report format they feel comfortable with, but we always encourage the client to consider our approach.

What is our approach?

At dhpresearch we believe in the following "Everything Should Be Made as Simple as Possible, But Not Simpler" Albert Einstein

The first thing is we do is to clearly acknowledge the limitations of the building block approach of evidence i.e "this is what we found from the literature..." "this was our methodology..." "these are the findings..." "these are our recommendations..." Have you ever been told a story like this?

As David Smith puts it "...simply, the narrative approach is one that identifies the key issues or factors that relate to the problem under investigation, and then, in an 'attacking' way, focuses directly on these issues, drawing in appropriate evidence as the story unfolds"

Our approach includes:

  1. Not making the story longer than it should be - brevity has the advantage of delivering a high impact message  in a short amount of time.
  2. Following a narrative - that is we provide a structure comprising:the setting, the problem or question, the response to the problem/question and the resolution to the problem/question.
  3. Making the report aesthetically pleasing.We believe that presenting a aesthetically pleasing report  can increase its impact as well as gain credibility.
  4. Providing a context to the story to help understand the meaning of the findings.
  5. Finally, drawing out the insights and present these as key findings.

What are the advantages of the narrative approach?

  • It's the way decision makers think because they are busy and time urgent
  • The narrative approach enables the big picture/ zoom in
  • Enables informed decision making


Visit our Storytelling training page

Story telling

"“It was a true pleasure to work with Dr Meadows on delivering this workshop. We attracted a wide range of participants, from local health and care service providers, commissioning teams and local Healthwatch. Dr Meadows conveyed the workshop material in a clear and engaging style which suited the pace of everyone in the room. The workshop sessions were particularly valuable - as we worked on real life problems, we found the method really brought the statistics alive. Healthwatch Devon recommends DHP as a training partner and we look forward to more work together in the future.”"

Partnership Officer Healthwatch Devon