#EurekaMoment 06: Numbers don’t tell the stories. Stories do.

February 24, 2017 Harold Tor-Daenens

#EurekaMoment 06: Numbers don’t tell the stories. Stories do.

In my job, I was often asked by my clients to produce infographics. Apart from explaining processes, infographics are useful in bringing to attention numbers and figures that help to explain the severity of certain situations. But numbers can help prove a fact, but only storytelling can win them over to your side.

For example:

“One out of ten women experience harassment at work”.
“20% of shipments get lost at sea due to the lack of a harmonised tracking standard”.
“175 out of 223 politicians earn 30 times in a day the monthly salary of an average employee”.

Yet, numbers can be quoted out of context.
Numbers give you a substantiated and scientific approach to validate your arguments.
Will your audience accept your argument? Maybe.
Will they be won over to your side? No.

To win people over to your side, and make them your champions, you need to convince them with stories. Numbers don’t project emotions, stories do.

Storytelling Evokes Emotions. Emotions resonance wins people over.

If you want to project the gravity of sexual harassment at work faced by women, tell the story of Sarah, who was harassed by her boss and being a single mother, she was afraid to confront her superior for fear of losing her livelihood. The story helps to generate pity, indignance, and a sense of social justice.

If you want to raise awareness of the need to have a harmonised set of standards in shipping, have an interview with a corporate customer Mr Samson, who has lost his shipment five times in the last two years, so that your readers can empathise with the awful financial circumstances he had to deal with.

If you want to talk about the income disparity between politicians and the average worker, highlight in a video the story of Tom – an average income guy and then focus on the financial constraints he faces every month, and then compare that to the income level of a member of parliament.

Remember, numbers do not tell stories, only stories do. Statistics may help you to prove your point, but emotions help you to win people over.


Eureka Moments are not so much moments of sudden realisation or enlightenment like Archimedes. They are moments while I am in my commute when I get to reflect on things that someone mentioned to me, things that I am confronted with, things that I or others have sought a solution for. They are more ‘oh I get it’ rather than ‘I have discovered it’. 

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