This course is now delivered online as a series of live sessions which fully meet the learning objectives of face-to-face training

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.


Stories are how human beings make sense of the world. They are what we are persuaded by, particularly when they’re rooted in genuine evidence. In the data-rich corporate world, storytellers need to deploy 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 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 it, while those who are – the world’s finest planners and researchers – don’t always make the best storytellers.

Narrative by Numbers 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.

Learning outcomes:

  • How to build convincing stories using data and statistics
  • How to avoid the Curse of Knowledge, false positives and spurious correlations
  • 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
"Interactive and informative."

Diana Meterna, BVA BDRC
April 2020

"Insightful and creative storytelling techniques"

Ash Strange, Which?
April 2020

"Analytics + storytelling = influence."

Harry Davies, Google
April 2020

Sam Knowles is a data storyteller. He is the founder of the consultancy Insight Agents, and the author of the just-published How To Be Insightful ( This is the sequel to 2018’s critically-acclaimed Narrative by Numbers (, with both books published by Routledge. A classicist with a doctorate in experimental psychology, Sam is a sought-after speaker and trainer, blogger and podcaster, having co-founded the Small Data Forum podcast in 2016, which he co-hosts. He also chairs I-COM’s Data Storytelling Council.

9.30               Introductions and welcome
                        The storytellers’ challenge
                        Exercise 1: The killer statistic

10.40     Coffee, phone, and comfort break

10.55            Why “narrative by numbers”?
                        The 6 Golden Rules of Narrative by Numbers

12.15      Lunch break

14.00            Exercise 2: What’s the story?

15.15      Coffee, phone, and comfort break

15.30             Exercise 3: The Pixar pitch

16.00            Summing up, Q&A, feedback

Additional Information

Get the latest MRS news

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