Phase three - Impact narration

Phase three Intended Learning outcomes (ILOs)

By building your capacity in using the approach set out in Phase three of the Impact Playbook, you will be able to:

  • Use techniques that help you draft an impact narrative

  • Find appropriate tools to help you visualise your findings

  • Create an impact story that responds to the needs and demands of your audience

What is Phase three?

In Phase two you collected your data. You made your preliminary interpretations and you’ve validated these with your colleagues. But what’s next? How do you take the data and tell a story? How do you get your whole organisation on board to create impact with your impact story?

A narrative is another word for a story. You narrate a story about your impact. Data storytelling is a type of narration based on evidence. You can take the data you collected in Phase two and tell a story that will inspire and connect your stakeholders to the project you are leading and the impact you are trying to create. 

According to Brent Dykes, telling a story with data consists of three core components:

  1. Data

  2. Visuals

  3. Narrative

Phase three takes you deeper into the process of how to build a story out of your data and create a narrative that will help you share, discuss and learn from your impact assessment.

Who is it for?

Phase three is for anyone who has findings (from an evaluation, an impact assessment, a feedback survey…) that they want to take to their audience(s). You could be a communications professional looking for tips on data visualisation, or someone new to communications who wants to know more about how to plan to reach your stakeholders. You might be a data analyst but struggle with creating a story with your numbers and findings.

When should I use it?

Phase three is designed to be used once you have findings that you want to take to an audience that hasn’t seen them before.

Why build a narrative? Engage, remember, innovate

Why build a narrative when you can just present the data? In most circumstances, just presenting the data won’t tell the story you want to tell or inspire the action you want to come next. The narrative is not just for your executive summary or conclusions. Once you’ve drafted a compelling narrative, you can also use this to shape your whole report. It will influence your dissemination plan and it is likely to shape how you and your organisation use your findings. 

The evidence for the power of storytelling is strong. Storytelling can help create an emotional connection between you and your audience. Decisions are often based on emotion and people remember stories, and things with which they have an emotional connection, much more than they do if it’s just facts and figures. 

The way you communicate the insights from your data will affect the way they are used and the impact that they can create. Telling impactful stories can help you build a community that is interested and engaged in your work. Having a supportive community around you that believes in what you do is a key tool to creating more impact for your stakeholders. This is important - tell them how great you are! 

What skills or competences do I (or my team) need?

  • Creativity and curiosity

  • Willingness to try new tools

  • Collaboration skills

  • Good writing skills

  • Objectivity

What is the end result?

You’ll emerge with a report or another type of tangible output that summarizes (and may also present in detail) the findings of your data analysis. This output will be specifically designed for its stakeholders, visually appealing, and present an engaging impact narrative.

If you follow Phase three, you will emerge with:

  • An impact story

  • A report or other output that I can use to share the results of my impact assessment

  • Well-designed visuals (where needed)

  • A better understanding of who needs to see the findings of my impact assessment, in what format and when