A conversation with Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic, who literally wrote the book on data storytelling

Cover page of Storytelling with Data: Let’s Practice! by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic
Cover page of Storytelling with Data: Let’s Practice! by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic
NUSSBAUMER KNAFLIC, Cole. Storytelling with Data: Let’s Practice! John Wiley & Sons. Hoboken, New Jersey. © 2019 Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic

Founded in 2010, storytelling with data, states as its mission: trying to “rid the world of ineffective graphs and help people elegantly communicate with data”. You may have visited the website, taken part in a #SWDChallenge, read one of their books or even participated in one of the numerous workshops their team leads around the globe.


Since I have begun working as a BI consultant almost 7 years ago, I have worked with different reporting tools to fulfill several clients’ requests for data on their business. I believe I was (and am still) improving and getting more comfortable with Excel, SSRS, Tableau, Power BI and other tools. However, no matter my technical expertise, I started to realize that even though clients’ were satisfied with the resulting reports, adoption and usage were not as high as I expected. I was answering the specs, but no matter how many “This is great! Exactly what I needed.” …


Graphs are powerful, so designers have a responsibility to make sure that the decisions they make will lead to communication that is as truthful as can be.

An aerial view of a mountainous shoreline
An aerial view of a mountainous shoreline
“The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.” — Pastor Ralph W. Sockman

When I started my data visualization journey, I focused on understanding and applying the “left brain” aspect of it: human perception, situation awareness, learning to work systematically with tools like Tableau and Power BI, and trying to develop skills in R and Python. Data viz was not an art to me; it was a branch of data science. As I was exposed to terms like data art and data visualization design, I gained…


Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic’s book is an accessible resource for data viz practitioners, clients, and everyone in between.

Three years ago, I was at a career crossroad. As a BI consultant, I had developed reports for different clients for a while. I always got rave reviews as a trainer while training staff on tools like Excel, SSRS, and Power BI, but started noticing that people still went back to their old ways once the training was over. As a developer (I could not dare call myself a designer then!), I was frustrated that, more often than not, my work was not adopted more widely. …

Charles Saulnier

Manager @LarochelleGC. Always looking to improve my viz and design skills, and share my passion with anyone who will hear me out :)

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store