How to make sure numbers don't dilute your message
Audiences often get lost when they are presented with numbers and data. In order for your presentation to be effective and to ensure that your message gets across while also sharing figures is a difficult task. Here are a few hints in making sure that numbers don't dilute your message.
Hint no.1: Identify the key points you want to make
Any presentation should start with a clear introduction and overview of the points you are going to make. This becomes even more important if you have a presentation full of numbers and data so put away the PowerPoint and summarize in two or three sentences the key points you want your audience to walk away with. This gives them a solid opening context in which to view the data you will then put before them.
Hint no.2: Be selective
Chances are good that you see the relevance of your numbers a lot more than most of your audience members will. Therefore, to choose the right evidence to present in support of your message you are going to need to take a few steps back to look at things from your audience's perspective. Overloading your audience with data is a sure way to guarantee they will forget almost everything you say so be selective.
Hint no.3: If you say it show it
Your audience will have difficulty remembering and understanding any more than one number. So if you are going to present them with data and say a list of numbers you need to show them the numbers in a visual context. Be careful with percentages and ratios as these need to be clearly presented as many people won't understand what they actually represent.
Hint no.4: Interpret the numbers
The numbers themselves aren't what are actually interesting for your audience; it's the interpretation of the data so help your audience understand by highlighting what the message is before you present the numbers. Help them visually to understand the message, for example if a number presented represents a decrease or loss highlight it in red, if it presents a gain or increase maybe put it in green.
Hint no.5: Update your numbers
If you are presenting to various audiences as your message may change, your supporting evidence and how you present the numbers should also change. Review your data before each presentation to ensure that you have highlighted the numbers and message that are important to that specific group. Also, make sure that your numbers are current, as an audience will not listen to the message if they know that the data is out of date or they know something that is more current.