Before You Create a Report or a Story, Answer These 3 Questions


Before you create a report or story, you want to get the fundamentals right. The fundamentals form the basis of your story and consist of three questions that you want to ask and answer.   

1. Who is my audience?
Be specific in your description of who you believe should be reading this. This helps you develop and design content for your story that your reader will find engaging. 

2. Why should my audience care?
You want to make sure your story is relevant to your audience. Answering this question helps you develop the message that you want your audience to leave with, the key take-away. Make the readers care, emotionally, intellectually, or aesthetically.                

3. What is the purpose of this story?
You should make sure to have a goal for your story. Ideally, one that can be combined with a call-to-action e.g. “To inform and influence state legislators about the importance of providing funding to child obesity prevention programs in the upcoming budget negotiations”.


Sketch out the layout.
When you have asked and answered the initial three questions, try and sketch out the layout of your story. Grab pen and paper and get an idea of what elements you would like to include.

Keep it to the point.
In our experience, you want to keep data stories to a maximum of two pages or approximately three to five large paragraphs. This includes an intro, your three main points, and a conclusion with a call to action.

Make a plan and stick to it.
You wouldn’t construct a building without having a plan for what it should look like. Similarly, you should make a plan for your story. Remember to refer back to these initial notes as you create your story, that way you will make sure to keep your story on track and to the point. Happy storytelling!