The Best Data Storytelling Advice I’ve Ever Gotten with Scott Berinato

Present Beyond Measure Ep. 035

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Introducing Scott Berinato

Data storytelling is a phrase ripping through the digital marketing and analytics spheres like a dust devil in the Sonoran desert. Unsurprisingly, there’s no shortage of data visualization and storytelling articles, experts, and communities telling you exactly what to do and what not to do.

Sometimes, they don’t all agree, and sometimes, it gets ugly.

Then there’s Scott Berinato, head honcho of data viz at the Harvard Business Review. Scott stands apart in the ocean of data viz gurus in that he’s not here to teach you the right and wrong way of data viz.

He’s here to show you what’s worked for him, and equip you with tools to find your own way. And it’s because of his balanced and approachable philosophy his work has had a profound influence on my own data storytelling philosophies and teachings.

Scott Berinato is a self-described “dataviz geek” and Senior Editor at the Harvard Business Review. He created the successful “Vision Statement” department in the magazine, has written and edited many articles for HBR and other top business and tech-related print and web publications.

Beyond that, Scott is the author of a book on data storytelling that has quickly become one of the most-recommended and most-cited books in my workshops and speaking sessions. The book, “Good Charts,” helps people turn plain and uninspiring charts into effective and smart visualizations that convey ideas powerfully.

Scott is also a champion for creating more compassionate and heart-centered community around socializing and critiquing data viz, which speaks directly to my mission to help make the data viz world a kinder place.

In this episode, Scott breaks down the most important concepts of data viz and creating good charts while also explaining the significant role storytelling plays in presenting data to your audience.

In This Episode, You’ll Learn…

  • How he differentiates between a well-built chart and a good chart by determining whether or not it conveys an idea to the audience.
  • His method for developing the Quadrant Model, his “good chart” matrix.
  • The tools he uses most frequently for his dataviz work.
  • How he finds business success by developing and supporting a team model.
  • How he uses colors to convey his message, without overdoing it.
  • His view on data and storytelling and how they are connected.
  • Several of his best practices and mindsets that help him achieve success.
  • The resources that inspire him, like the Washington Post article about the Trade War, with nearly perfect visualization.

People, Resources, & Links Mentioned

Scott Berinato Quote - Lea Pica - PBM 035

Scott’s Upgrade:

How to Keep Up with Scott:

Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining me. Have some feedback you’d like to share, or a question for Scott? Leave a note in the comments below, and we’ll get back to you!

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A very, very special thanks to Scott for joining me this week. And as always, viz responsibly, my friends.

Do you have a burning question for Scott about creating good charts, storytelling with data, or his upcoming “Good Charts Workbook?” If so, ask away!


Lea is a digital analyst and marketer turned Data Storytelling Evangelist. She trains thousands of digital practitioners and consultants in the art and science of impactful data presentation through her blog and podcast, The Present Beyond Measure Show. Lea is also the creator of The PICA Protocol™, her practical prescription for healthy, actionable data stories that inform decisions, spark ideas, inspire action, and make YOU indispensable.