Nourish don’t numb

May 27, 2015

downloadNumbers are the nub of many presentations, yet the challenge is not to numb but inspire, nourish and nurture our ideas with numbers.

One way to do this is by adding an interesting fact, or sharing a customer observation, after the number. A presenter at a large conference started by saying: One in three people will suffer from public speaking anxiety in their lifetime. Turn to the person on your right, and then to the person on your left, among the three of you, who will it be?

Everybody laughed, but the stat sunk in.

Another way of presenting stats is to quote an authority or expert in the area. You could say, for example,‘I was reading Seth Godin’s blog and he shares that one of the top 100 things searched for on Yahoo! is Yahoo’.

No matter how boring the numbers are there are many imaginative ways to present them. At a recent conference the CEO presented his numbers as a weather map of the regions. It was the highlight of the conference.

Hans Rosling’s TED Talk The best stats you will ever see is an example of how you can do numbers well, even with a serious topic. Rosling presents complex, longitudinal, global stats on child mortality, but does it with drama, urgency and adopts the persona of a sports broadcaster. It’s magic and it works without minimising the seriousness of the issue he is dealing with.

As the presenter, you have to make strategic choices about the data you are going to show. And then think how can I inspire people with these numbers?

Please comment, I love hearing from you.

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