why didn't I learn this stuff in school?


At SWD, we have the good fortune to teach many people in their business setting. These are typically individuals already in their careers who are interested developing their skills.

Why didn’t I learn this stuff in school? This is a question we hear frequently and that’s occurred to me more than once over the years in relation to visualizing and communicating with data. Well, it didn’t use to exist. The good news is, that is changing: more and more universities are incorporating the development of data visualization skills and communicating with data into their curricula.

At SWD, we celebrate innovative educators—and the universities and institutions where they teach—who share our mission of creating better data storytellers. We happily guest lecture when possible, but the way we’ve reached many more students is through the book. More than 100 universities around the world have used storytelling with data as part of their curricula. Instructors laud it for the straightforward approach and practical business-based examples, plus it costs a fraction of the typical textbook.


“I teach data-driven storytelling and communication to undergraduate, Ph.D. students, MBAs, and executives. Across all of these, storytelling with data is my core textbook and in every class, students want more from Cole—particularly in the form of hands-on remakes. I'm thrilled that I can now add Let's Practice! to my courses. Packed with examples and practical strategies, this is a must-have resource for anyone who needs to convey data, or to teach this critical professional skill to others.

Steven Franconeri, Professor of Psychology, Director of the Cognitive Science Program and the Visual Thinking Lab at Northwestern University

Professor Franconeri was an early reviewer of my forthcoming book, storytelling with data: Let’s Practice!—which I am incredibly excited to now introduce broadly to university instructors. Read on to learn more about what you can expect and how to get your hands on some preview content.

Here are a few specific resources from Let’s Practice! that will be useful for those teaching:

The solved practice with Cole exercises can be assigned as reading and illustrate many more real scenarios, challenges, and examples (inspired by those encountered in our workshops) to aid in the understanding and application of storytelling with data lessons.

The unsolved practice on your own sections provide a plethora of exercises that can be used directly, mixed-and-matched, or modeled after for assignments, tests, and projects. All data and graphs are downloadable.

The discussion questions that conclude each chapter will also be useful to draw from for group or class conversations on topics related to applying storytelling with data lessons. For example, check out the let’s discuss exercise from Chapter 2 on choosing an effective visual (see more example content in our recent post).

Chapter 2: let’s discuss!  | Knaflic, Cole.  Storytelling With Data: Let’s Practice!  Wiley, © 2019.

Chapter 2: let’s discuss! | Knaflic, Cole. Storytelling With Data: Let’s Practice! Wiley, © 2019.

In the past week, we have reached out to a number of the universities that use storytelling with data to share sample content from the new book, Let’s Practice! If you are an educator who is interested in receiving a sneak peek of storytelling with data: Let's Practice!, complete this short form and we'll send you the materials right away. You can also contact your Wiley account rep to coordinate a full complimentary copy of the books to assess for use as a textbook in your courses (storytelling with data is available now via this link and Let’s Practice! will be published in October and can be requested here).

We also frequently hear from students who were introduced to storytelling with data through their professor. If you’re a student who wants to make sure your instructor has early access to Let’s Practice!, complete this form to let us know who they are and we will let them know about this new offering.


"YES! Something more from Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic. I've been teaching with her first book, storytelling with data, heavily for the past three years and the new Let's Practice! is the ideal companion to use with my students and clients. Her ability to simplify the complex without 'dumbing down' the message is second to none. I am so glad this book is now available."

JD Schramm, Lecturer at Stanford Graduate School of Business and author of forthcoming Communicate with Mastery: speak with conviction and write for impact

We always enjoy hearing from instructors on how they are using storytelling with data lessons and what we can do to help support. If you have ideas to share, please email us.