I can think of nothing an audience won't understand. The only problem is to interest them; once they are interested they understand anything in the world.
- Orson Welles
The Welles quote focuses on the key purpose of narrative, create interest. Narrative drives investment capital and serves as the catalyst for action. The effective narrative generates interest and understanding, yet many managers forget this simple lesson.
Numbers don't have feelings. Numbers by themselves don't provide context, so there is no interest. The good narrative explains why numbers are important and can provide comparison. "These numbers are like..." "These numbers are extreme..." These numbers are odd..."
A z-score is just a scaled number until it is suggested that it is interesting at this time and place. A trend signal is just a price above some average until it is made interesting by explaining how it fits within an economic story. An economic model is just a forecast until it is given an explanation for why the forecast may be unusual or have meaning for action.
A story does not have to be an exaggeration or a marketing pitch. It does have to cause the audience to say the following, "Tell me more."