Incorporating facts and statistics is essential for the effectiveness of many types of speeches. If you can’t support your statements with facts, people will question the validity of your message. However, spouting off lists of facts, or providing facts that are unmemorable, will only confuse and bore the audience.
Here are a few tricks to keeping your facts from becoming too boring:
In 2011, China’s population was one billion, three hundred forty-four million, one hundred and thirty thousand (1,344,130,000, World Bank). Would you remember that entire number if someone told you during a speech? Probably not. Rounding the number to about one point three (1.3) billion or one point three four four (1.344) billion is much easier to remember.
Ask the audience
Any time you can get the audience to participate in your speech, your message will have more impact. Make the statistic a guessing game by asking the audience to guess what the number is. If the situation allows, you can offer the correct guesser a prize.
For example, during a speech about Washington agriculture, you could ask the audience to guess how many apples are handpicked in the state each year. Keep them guessing for a while by stating if the guesses are high, low or close. After a few tries, if no one gets the answer, they will at least be waiting to hear the true number. (The answer, according to the Washington State Apple Commission, is 10-12 billion.)
Put it in perspective
If you are describing the size or amount of something, put it in terms people can understand. An easy way to relate size is to compare the size to places, such as states or buildings. For example you could say, “To put this in perspective, X is about the size of Montana.” Giving people a visual to relate the statistic to will make it more memorable.
Tell a story
People remember stories. Stories offer a chance to reveal the speaker’s personality, make the audience laugh and add spoken imagery. Storytelling is a great time to insert statistics because your audience will be listening attentively. Just make sure not to overwhelm the story with facts. Space them out along the way.
Do you have any more suggestions for how to put statistics/facts in your speeches? What works for you?