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Making Sense of Numbers

Doing a presentation that involves numbers? Here’s how to bring the stats to life.

Douglas Kruger

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Calculator finances

At some point in your career, you will inevitably have to include numbers or graphs in your presentation. They are often mind-numbingly boring, but necessary. Ever heard a presenter say something like this:

‘For the next twenty quarters, our R25million per annum slush-fund will be divided among 14 accounts, to service 23%of total growth. We expect a 5% drop in total revenue for the next thirteen months, while 28% of passive sales will double at a rate of 10 units per yearf or the next three seasons.’

Did that mean anything to you? No? Then why do we subject our audiences to similar mind-numbing statistics?

Enhance understanding

The best presenters always bear in mind that their objective as a speaker is not to impart information, but to help the audience to understand. Information is only half of the job. Understanding is the goal. That is a fundamental truth in all communication. It’s not about what we say, but what they get. And from this point of view, it’s futile for you to have all the numbers at your fingertips if you are not able to make them meaningful to your audience.

Illustrate your point

Fortunately, there are alternative ways of expressing numbers in pictures and comparisons.

A picture worth a thousand words

Pictures are simple visual depictions of numbers; mental images that people can see and understand. For example, insteadof saying, ‘R800 million Rand,’ you might say, ‘R800 million, enough money to feed the entire population of Soweto for four months,’ or ‘Enough money to fill a public swimming pool with stacked notes.’ Suddenly people have something‘visual’ that helps them to comprehend how much money they are dealing with.

In early discussions about the Gautrain rail system, a figure of R13 billion was bandied about. The media soon turned that abstract number into a ‘visual’ by claiming that it was sufficient to buy a row of S-Class Mercedes Benzes that would stretch around the globe.

Drawing comparisons

Comparisons are like pictures, but they area little more creative, in that they draw similarities to something else. For example, instead of saying that 200 000 people is ‘a lot’, you might say, ‘The size of the entire South African Defence Force’.

The next time you are forced to include numbers or statistics in a presentation, try to help your audience to understand exactly what they mean. You may relate numbers to something ordinary and familiar to your audience, such as the amount of money requiredfor a monthly telephone bill, or for a family of four to eat out, or the amountof petrol they might use for their cars each month. The goal is to associateyour amount with something that the audience can relate to quickly while you areon the way to your next sentence. Making it visual makes for swift processing.

Douglas Kruger is the only speaker in Africa to have won the Southern African Championships for Public Speaking a record five times. He is the author of ‘50 Ways to Become a Better Speaker,’ published in South Africa and Nigeria, ‘50 Ways to Position Yourself as an Expert,’ and co-author of ‘So You’re in Charge. Now What? 52 Ways to Become a Better Leader.’ See Douglas in action, or read his articles, at www.douglaskruger.co.za. Email him at Kruger@compute.co.za, or connect with him on Linked In or Twitter: @DouglasKruger

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(Video) Get More Attention For your Business

Lindsay Broder, The Occupreneur Coach, explains the importance of communicating your unique skills and the value you can offer clients in this short video.

Entrepreneur

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Demonstrating what you bring to the table isn’t always easy.

Lindsay Broder, The Occupreneur Coach, explains the importance of communicating your unique skills and the value you can offer clients in this short video.

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(Video) How You Can Make Your Next Presentation Memorable

How to make your pitch memorable.

Entrepreneur

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Carmine-Gallo

From delivering board room presentations to speaking before a live audience, speaking publicly is something most of us will have to do at some point. But if we’re going to take the time to develop and practice delivering a presentation, we want to make sure the content and the “performance” are memorable, right?

In this video, keynote speaker and communication coach Carmine Gallo offers his top tips for how you can make your next business presentation one your audience won’t soon forget. Gallo is author of TALK LIKE TED: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of The World’s Top Minds.

Gallo recommends following the “rule of three.” Instead of presenting 15 or 20 points, stick with three or four features or pieces of advice. Why? It’s easier for people to remember and stay engaged with what you’re saying.

“It’s almost impossible for the human brain to ignore that group of three,” Gallo says. “We have to know what those three are.”

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(Video) How to Hit the Presentation Content Nail on the Head

Building better business presentations.

Entrepreneur

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Avoid the glassy-eyed look from your audience by creating a strong presentation that delivers an exciting experience. Pam Slim delves into her process and techniques for choosing content to fill her presentation slides.

“Ask yourself: What do you want people to walk away with?”

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