How to turn my figures into a story?

We are all regularly presented with figures. And for some, it’s even a job! But this is not easy because, for many of us, an encrypted presentation can quickly turn into a boring inventory, where everyone loses. In the first place, the speaker shows his results like he’s presenting the weather. And of course, the audience, who’s found what it needed, is no longer listening because it has the information it wanted.

The result is often one more presentation that will not fulfill the expected goal: making this project happen, generating adherence and commitment. So how can you make your numbers speak? 

 Sharing figures is above all sharing an idea

Sharing figures is necessary when it comes to giving credibility to your speech and building on something concrete. It is still necessary that the figures in question are coherent vis-à-vis the message you want to share. To give meaning to your numbers:

  • Forget the slide “key figures,” which is nothing more than a garland of boring numbers. Instead, think about extracting some of the most important numbers from your perspective and asking yourself the key question: What is the idea? What is the key message behind this figure? It will be easier to build a coherent slide that highlights what one needs to remember.
  • Remove the numbers from their chart. Out of principle, a painting has no place in a slide. Here too we end up with an accumulation of numbers that, whatever the case, never have the vocation of being commented on. It is better to identify a few key figures and their associated message and make a slide that will be less cluttered, clearer and more impacting.


Make your numbers even more concrete

Even though everyone requests numbers and KPIs, we must not forget that the brain has a hard time assimilating large numbers. So how can you impress your audience with your results?

  • Use an understandable reference source. Above all, think about your audience and their level of understanding of the subject, and adopt a relevant and impactful reference for them. To make the numbers concrete, you can replace large numbers with equivalent surfaces or quantities.
  • Use and abuse frequencies, which the brain loves. Know that it is always more efficient to say 1 in 3 than 33%. For example, rather than announcing that you have organized “almost 100 training sessions since the beginning of the year,” choose to speak of more than “3 sessions per week.”
  • Start with an example and then generalize. Figures and statistics have a cold side to them that takes us away from the concrete. To make your figures tell a story, start from a concrete case to create an emotional connection before generalizing by sliding your figures into your remarks. For example, “The training greatly helped Martin to speak in public and defend his ideas. Over the past 6 years, nearly 400 managers like him have benefited from training to improve their Pitch. It is by first creating an emotional bond with a single individual that the figure reaches a new, more impacting dimension.