Data analysis is more than just crunching numbers and drawing charts. For communicating complex insights, you need a story that connects the dots. Data storytelling integrates data, domain expertise, intuitive visualization, and narration to create stories that are easy to understand and remember. Whether you are a scientist, a teacher, or a business professional, mastering the art of data storytelling can help you to make an impact.

Please join us 1-5 PM on April 26 via Zoom.


  • See how storytelling can be used in research and education.
  • Learn about techniques and best practices.
  • Watch how to turn an equation into a YouTube video.
  • Connect with others interested in effective data communication.

The event is organized in collaboration with the Department of Computer Science, the Institute for Advanced Analytics, and the Data Science Academy and sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC, Live Oak Bank, the ePartners Program, and the NC State Engineering Foundation.

Attendance is free, but please register. We will send you our Zoom link the day before the event.


1:00-1:10 Welcome & Introduction

1:10-1:45 Three Storytelling Strategies for Better Presentations –––––––––––––––––––––––– Sarah Egan Warren

Using storytelling strategies and structures, you can make your presentation more memorable and relevant to your audience. Dr. Sarah Egan Warren will discuss three strategies for incorporating storytelling techniques into presentations and lectures.

1:45-2:20 Data Storytelling is about challenging expectations and more ––––––––––––––––– Sorin Adam Matei

True stories, which are different from descriptive narratives, do three things. They violate assumptions. They replace old expectations with new ones by showing that a new explanation fits the data with a theoretical explanation much better. Because of this, stories teach, and audiences learn. The teaching and learning process is facilitated by transformative metaphors that make numbers and formulas understandable even to laypersons. The presentation will provide examples of great data stories that follow this format.

2:20-2:55 The Quest for Automated Story Generation –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Mark Riedl

Storytelling is a pervasive part of the human experience--we tell stories to communicate, inform, entertain, and educate. In this talk, I will lay out the case for the study of storytelling through the lens of artificial intelligence. I will explore the grand challenge of building intelligent systems that learn to tell stories. I will specifically look at two challenges pertaining to neural generative processes: control of text generation to achieve goal-driven behavior and maintaining and transferring long-term causal relations. While both challenges are necessary for automated story generation, they also appear in other artificial intelligence and natural language processing tasks.

2:55-3:15 Coffee-break

3:15-3:50 How to turn an equation into a successful YouTube video –––––––––––––––––––––––––– Josh Starmer

In this talk, I'll tell the story of how a relatively scary equation was turned into an interesting video that millions of people have enjoyed watching on YouTube.

3:50-4:25 Construction Diaries: Knowledge from Lessons Learned Narratives –––––––––––––––––– Arnav Jhala

Stories in daily journals and diaries are a rich source of insights drawn from individual experiences. Public transportation construction projects like roads and bridges run over several years with multi- million dollars of expenses. Project managers for these keep diaries of stories from their on-field experiences while working on these projects. The NC Department of Transportation has created a database of these diary entries in the form of a Lessons Learned/Best Practices database. We present tools to organize, filter, and search through these semi-structured narratives of experiences to help improve outcomes for future projects.

4:25-4:35 BREAK

4:35-5:00 Questions from Audience ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Speaker Panel

4:55-5:00 Closing Remarks

Sarah Egan Warren

has 25+ years of experience developing curricula and delivering presentations, training, and instruction in undergraduate, graduate, and industry settings. She completed two graduate degrees at NC State University: a master’s in Technical Communication and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development. Currently, she is on the faculty at the Institute for Advanced Analytics, and she is a DELTA Faculty Fellow. She created and teaches the technical communication and ethical data storytelling curriculum for the Institute.

Sorin Adam Matei

is a communication and social science scholar passioned about transforming complex data into approachable stories. He is the creator of the Data Storytelling Online Course at Purdue and the author of several books on Social Media Data Analytics, including Data and AI ethics. Dr. Matei is the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education in the College of Liberal Arts at Purdue.

Mark Riedl

is a Professor at the Georgia Tech School of Interactive Computing and Associate Director of the Georgia Tech Machine Learning Center. Dr. Riedl’s research focuses on human-centered artificial intelligence—the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies that understand and interact with human users more naturally. Dr. Riedl’s recent work has focused on story understanding and generation, computational creativity, explainable AI, and teaching virtual agents to behave safely. His research is supported by the NSF, DARPA, ONR, Disney, Google, Amazon, and Meta.

Josh Starmer

is the person behind the popular YouTube channel, “StatQuest with Josh Starmer.” Since 2016, Josh has used an innovative and unique visual style to clearly explain Statistics, Data Science, and Machine Learning concepts and algorithms to curious people all over the world. Rather than dumb down the material, Josh brings people up with simple examples worked through, step-by-step, using pictures to make sure every main idea is easy to understand and remember. By breaking down even the most complicated algorithms into bite-sized pieces, StatQuest has helped people all over the world win data science competitions, pass exams, graduate from school, and get jobs and promotions. Josh is called the “Patron Saint of Silicon Valley” because people binge-watch StatQuest videos before job interviews, the “Bill Nye of Statistics” by making the topic fun and exciting, and the “Bob Ross of Data” by cutting through the hype and helping people relax with silly songs.

Arnav Jhala

is an associate professor of computer science since August 2016. Arnav also serves as the coordinator of the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program in Visual Narrative and as the co-director of the Digital Games Research Initiative. Arnav’s research interests are in computational modeling of human cognitive processes to better understand how humans perceive, store, retrieve, and assimilate narratives.



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