The Most Effective Data Communication Methods For Your Business

MX Bites / July 1, 2024

Building a data-driven culture is fantastic; however, it’s even more important to understand and apply the most effective data communication methods that are suitable for your organization. Your stakeholders can disconnect from you if you’re using the wrong communication approach to convey data facts and figures to them. To avoid that, you need to understand the peculiarities of each method of communication in order to communicate effectively with them.

The two most effective techniques for communicating with data are through data stories and interactive dashboards. While they are both effective ways, they are not suitable for use at all points in business. The data communication methods you choose depend on your stakeholders, their level of data literacy, and the end goal of the communication.

Let’s have a closer look at each communication method so you can decipher which is best for your business and the goals you wish to achieve.

The Definition and Characteristics of Interactive Dashboards

Interactive dashboards are visual interfaces in the form of charts, diagrams, graphs and other visual elements that enable users to interact with data in real time. It is designed with simplicity, in such a way that it automates itself as new data flows in. Users can get up-to-date information from the dashboard and interpret results according to their own discretion. 

For instance, a food company can use an interactive dashboard to monitor customer satisfaction across different cities in a country using KPIs, such as the customer satisfaction CSAT score. They can easily know when the CSAT score decreases in a certain location, so they can find out what needs to be corrected and make amendments immediately.

If you decide to use interactive dashboards as a business, ensure that you ask your data analysts to design them in such a way that they clearly define your data points and key metrics. Tools such as Tableau, Power BI, and Google Data Studio can be used to create interactive dashboards for effective data communication. 

Benefits of using Interactive dashboards for data communication
  • It provides timely update to enable quick decision-making
  • The interactive elements allows users to explore data in-depth
  • Insights gleaned from interpreting interactive dashboards are usually timely and relevant
  • Simple dashboards are easy for users to navigate 
The Definition and Characteristics of Data Stories

In more recent times, one of the developments in data communication is the use of data stories to communicate data insights to important stakeholders. Data stories offer a unique way of presenting data and statistical insights to a non-technical audience with the use of clearly defined words and relatable stories. The main purpose of using data stories is to influence decision-making.  Typically, data analysts uncover it and present it to important decision-makers within an organization. 

Unlike interactive dashboards, which are automated and update data in real time, data stories are manually written and presented with a goal in mind. In more context, data stories entail an explanation of the data, interpretation of the patterns and trends, insights from the data representation, and actions to be taken in response to the observations. It provides a clearer understanding of a research process and lays a good foundation for accuracy in decision-making.

Benefits of using data stories for data communication
  • It presents data insights in such a simple way that anybody can understand them.
  • It helps to mitigate risks and reduce mistakes in decision-making
  • It helps in creating a culture of data literacy in an organization, such that everyone is carried along in data communication and decision-making
  • It brings to light hidden patterns and trends that may not be clearly expressed in a dashboard
  • Data stories are used to evoke emotions in users and sometimes influence decision-making
Limitations  of Both Data Communication Methods

The major limitation associated with the use of data stories in data communication is that they do not allow for automation and cannot be used to monitor data insights in real time. Instead, it requires manual work, an intense use of brain power and could be time-consuming.

Though interactive dashboards appear to be more advantageous, they demand a certain level of data literacy and are unsuitable for a non-technical audience. 

Knowing when to use each of the data communication methods

Having understood the key benefits, uniqueness, and limitations of each data communication method, let’s help you understand how and when to use both methods in communication.


Interactive dashboards should be used in a dynamic environment where data needs to be monitored in real-time and when users demand in-depth exploration of data insights. 

Data stories

Data stories should be used when communicating with important stakeholders in your company who are in the decision-making process. Ensure to use data stories when you’re communicating data insights to a large audience with different levels of data literacy. Also, data stories should be used when providing clarity to trends, patterns, or outcomes of data analysis.

Though it’s advisable to choose a suitable method of data communication, both techniques can be combined for maximum impact. 

Final Thoughts

Both interactive dashboards and data stories are effective methods of communicating data insights. You can deploy both techniques according to the end use. When you understand the uniqueness, strengths, and limitations of both techniques, you should be able to decipher which is best for the goal you’re trying to achieve. Ensure to experiment with both techniques to find a balance in your organization and know when to use each of them. 

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