Stories are how human beings make sense of the world. They are what we’re persuaded by, particularly when they’re rooted in genuine evidence.

The trouble is, most people aren’t terribly good at applying analytics, and those who are don’t always make the best storytellers. But a new workshop, Narrative by Numbers, shows how to tell powerful and purposeful stories with statistics at their heart.

What you’ll learn:

· How to build the most convincing stories possible using data and statistics

· How to avoid the Curse of Knowledge, false positives and spurious correlations

· Why you should only ever show your workings out if you’re asked to

· How to find and use the ‘killer statistic’ to best effect

· Why empathy is the most important skill of the data-driven storyteller

· How the best data-driven storytellers do it, from Sport England and Spotify, to easyJet and Tesco


Everyone needs two core skills to thrive in the modern knowledge economy: The ability to make sense of data and the ability to use insights extracted from data to persuade others to act.

At its simplest, the equation underpinning business impact in the 21st Century is: Analytics + Storytelling = Influence. Humans are hardwired to respond to stories – they are how we make sense of the world. We respond best to stories that are based on evidence and rooted in genuine insights that help examine the human condition.

In the data-rich corporate world, storytellers need to deploy data, facts and evidence as the foundation of stories, not instead of the stories – and not as the actual stories themselves. To be truly effective, facts need to be presented with a level of emotion, with the stories themselves starring real people.

The Big Data revolution means more data is available than ever before. The trouble is, most people aren’t terribly good at applying statistics, while those who are – the world’s finest planners and researchers – don’t always make the best storytellers. They often mistakenly believe they need to prove their point and show their workings, by which point most of the audience has fallen asleep.

Narrative by Numbers is a new workshop led by corporate and brand storyteller Dr Sam Knowles. It offers simple and effective rules of data-driven storytelling that help everyone tell more powerful and purposeful stories with data and statistics at their heart.


The Old Trading House, 15 Northburgh Street,London,EC1V 0JR

Runs Insight Agents, the data storytelling consultancy he founded in 2013. Originally a classicist, Sam has 30 years’ experience in marketing communications, both agency and in-house. He also holds a doctorate in experimental psychology. Sam is author of the critically-acclaimed book Narrative by Numbers (Routledge, 2018), which sets out his Golden Rules for more impactful data storytelling. This will be followed in Spring 2020 by a sequel, How To Be Insightful. A sought-after keynote speaker, trainer, and podcaster, Sam is the co-founder and co-host of the Small Data Forum podcast.

Additional Information

Get the latest MRS news

Our newsletters cover the latest MRS events, policy updates and research news.