Credible facts are a great way to establish your brand’s reputation. It’s hard to argue against them, especially if they back up a solid truth about your brand. The same principle applies for numbers. Hard statistics add substance to the facts you present, show how well your company performs, and even act as indicators for how well your proposals work.
The problem is presenting them in a visually meaningful way.
Fortunately, in my several years of crafting presentations, I’ve found that there are easy tips we can use when presenting complex numbers.
Breaking Down The Numbers
The problem with using numbers to prove your claims is that they tend to overwhelm people with too much information. As with any fact, we need to break them down into easily understandable chunks of information. Unfortunately, presenters commonly make the mistake of putting too much data instead of limiting the infographic length.
To effectively use metaphors, try to compare the data with something specific and relevant to your users.
For example, you could translate storage space into the number of songs, movies, and pictures that can be stored. This is what Steve Jobs did when launching the then-revolutionary iPod: “We’re going to keep 1,000 songs on iPod […] and it fits in your pocket.”
Or you could translate your earnings reports into things that your business could buy to improve itself. Once you find a suitable metaphor to compare your figures to, the next step is to decide how to show it in your presentation.
This stage involves three simple steps.
Doing The Visual Math
1. Visualize Comparisons
One thing infographics can teach you about presenting numbers is that visual comparisons and representations can easily explain complex information.
When you say your company’s earnings increased by 10 percent, try showing this in comparison to how much you made last quarter, or maybe even to how much your competitors made, just to provide a clearer context.
Because metaphors rely on using images that are familiar to the viewers, they become more relevant. This will give you an easier time pitching your proposals to your audience.
2. Don’t Forget The Basic Storytelling Formula
As silly as it sounds, numbers still need a good story to place them in a relevant context. After all, you still need to prove how you came up with these numbers.
Did you do a survey? Did you cite any research? Showing this kind of proof can to cement your credibility to your audience. Once you show your data, plan a sequence for your presentation. Try starting off with the factors that influenced their outcomes. Or, present a visual timeline that led to the final results.
Decide on a route you want to take, then add your claim, your supporting facts, and your conclusions. This way, your facts won’t only be irrefutable, but also meaningful.
3. Cut The Spreadsheets Out
Spreadsheets are the main reason for cluttered slides in financial presentations. Because they show too much raw information without being straight to the point, these are effective for analyzing and comparing data, but not for presenting it.
When presenting your numbers, spare your audience the jargon and get straight to the results. That way, you’ll present your claims as a challenge and keep them hooked long enough to hear you prove them.
The Takeaway: Numbers Need Dressing Up, Too
Facts and numbers are your trump cards when making a presentation. As long as you have the means to visually back them up, you can make them more understandable. By depicting them in terms of images familiar to your audience, you’ll be able to take full advantage of metaphors that can keep them hooked.
While some of us really can’t grasp numbers as fast as seasoned investors can, dressing them up in visually appealing and familiar ways can make them easier to comprehend for the casual observer and even more convincing to clients.
What else have you done to try and establish credibility in your business presentations? Share them with us in the comments below!