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Sunday, March 18, 2018
Article written by Liam Warrillow

Public Speaking Facts and Figures

This leads many speakers to make use of statistics in their presentations. It is an intuitive decision. The facts and numbers one discovered during their research may have been the very pieces of information that led to the development of their viewpoint in the first place. The discovery of trends, the startling revelations revealed in a statistical report and the recognition of a problem as revealed by numbers can be the very evidence upon which a claim is built.

Unfortunately, this great idea of using numbers to improve a presentation is often a recipe for a public speaking disaster. No matter how persuasive statistical facts may be to a researcher or to someone reading up on a subject of interest, they tend to fall very flat on public speaking audiences. A speech riddled with numbers and statistics, no matter what they really prove and how impressive the speaker originally found them, will often be lost on even the most otherwise interested audience.

Why is it that facts and figures translate so poorly in public speaking? There are few reasons.

Initially, there is the issue of expectations. Public speaking audiences expect to hear well-crafted words, not numbers. Even if the numbers provide some great insight, they do not match with what people generally expect to hear from a presenter. We are all creatures of habit and we tend to respond poorly to those things that do not meet our expectations. That is why the best public speakers adhere to certain conventions that have developed over the centuries. A speech heavy on numbers defies convention and can leave an audience confused on some level and disinterested on another.

Additionally, numbers tend to translate better for us in visual terms. We read numbers, look at charts and graphs, and perform calculations with calculators and spreadsheets we can see. Numbers, for most people are a visual entity. They work for us visually--they can even inspire us when we discover them. However, from the aural point of view, numbers fall flat. The mind translates numbers when we hear them, but not at the same rate or with the same level of efficacy as it does when we see them. Talking about numbers is like writing about music. You can make a point, but the message is a lot stronger if you experience it via the mindís preferred methodology.

Does this mean that a public speaker should abandon statistical information and facts altogether? Numbers and statistics are often too important to neglect completely. Additionally, an adept public speaker can use them successfully. The solution to the limitations of statistical information in public speeches is not to simply give up on numbers altogether. The real answer is to find a way to use the numbers effectively.

Developing this skill requires some level of understanding regarding the whole of the public speaking process. It also necessitates a particularized knowledge of the best possible ways to use statistics in a speech. These types of information can be gleaned from a solid guide to the realm of public speaking. One need only find a strong and reliable resource and then use the tactics outlined within it for public speaking as a whole and for the presentation of statistics, specifically
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