In our Effective Presentation Skills Workshops, we at EffectiveCommunication.com.au share the dangers of using statistics in a presentation. A main reason is that you can adapt data to make it mean whatever you want it to mean.
There are times, however, when statistics can be used effectively. Those times are when we answer these two questions, “How much?” & “How many?” When you answer those questions, qualify your answers with these three characteristics: Few, Fresh, and Forceful.
Use Few Statistics
Take for example the problem with garbage. Edward Humes in a recent Wall Street Journal article wrote that Americans toss out over seven pounds of trash per person each day.
A single statistic was sufficient to cover “how many.”
Make The Statistics Fresh
Recency is important. Check the internet regularly to find the latest statistics on your topic. Because we all take garbage to the curb each week, garbage is continually fresh—well, the garbage isn’t, but the idea of it is on our minds.
In one town, a huge controversy arose over the need to build a new bridge across the town’s river. The bridge presently in use is old and was never made to handle the amount of traffic that now flows over it.
A column in the local newspaper presented that a billion dollars worth of goods crosses the bridge every week, and each month that construction is delayed the cost of the new bridge increases eight million dollars.
Few and fresh are both inherent in these two statistics. These two statistics are sufficient to answer “How much?”
You Can Make All The Above Data Forceful By Your Delivery
Pause before you speak the statistic and then punch out the number. Perhaps take a step toward the audience as you deliver a particularly powerful statistic.
Don’t make statistics a major part of your presentations. Instead, carefully place one or two statistics in your presentation. Make sure the number you mention is relevant.
Add some drama by pausing and punching out the data. Then you will have answered the two most important questions audience members want answered: “How many?” and “How much?”
All the best with your future presentations!
Groucho Marks emceed a television game show in the 1950’s called ‘Who Do You Trust’.
The contestant had to choose which of three people was telling the truth. On this show, contestants paid close attention to the body language of the three people as a means of determining who was telling the truth.
When business people attempt to sell their ideas face-to-face, their prospect and clients also notice whether body language supports the message. This is not possible on the telephone. Instead of body language, listeners gauge trust by tone of voice.
Over the phone, people assess whether the words the person is saying actually match what they hear in the voice. If they do, they trust. For example, if you say you are sorry for the mix-up and you sound very apologetic, the listener is likely to give you another chance. On the other hand, if you ask how you can help the person, but sound very bored, the caller is likely to feel you are insincere. Your credibility will be severely affected. The person may even ask to speak to someone higher up, rather than waste time with the wrong person.
Tone of voice is very important to credibility when speaking on the telephone. In fact, Albert Mehrabian in his book, ‘Silent Messages’, says that if there is a difference between the person's words and tone of voice, 85% of the time, people will trust what they hear in the tone of the voice over the actual words.
Obviously, we want people to pay attention to the things we are saying when speaking to them over the phone. It is critical that we make a strong impression through the tone of our voice.
To keep the tone of your voice sounding sincere, it is important to assess how it typically sounds. By recording your calls periodically, you can gain powerful feedback on how your voice sounds to others as your day progresses.
To maximize the tone of your voice make sure you pause often and take frequent breaths. A voice that is starving for air will be a monotone, or it will sound strident. If you pause for a second or two where you might want to highlight a point or where you would have a comma or a period, you will greatly enhance the tone of your voice.
Also, if you smile, the voice will be much warmer. It is a good idea to have a mirror by your phone so you can watch your lips and mouth. You may notice that you hardly open your mouth, and, consequently, the voice sounds flat.
Trust and credibility is essential for anyone selling an idea. To insure that people believe your words, make sure that the tone of your voice is not an issue - that it supports and matches the words you are saying.
Your voice is a great persuasion tool.
Facilitating a meeting can be frustrating!
Often, nothing gets accomplished. People start talking among themselves, or they start texting on their phone. No one seems to know where the meeting is going. To get results, you can easily apply the following 3 facilitation principles.
1. Have A Well Planned Agenda
Focus on the topics pertinent to the listeners in front of you.
Don't try to cover too much in one session. As you create your agenda, add a time frame. Ahead, determine how long the group should spend discussing each item and hold them to it. A time frame alleviates people wasting time. Additionally, after each agenda item, list the desired outcomes. This will help attendees stay focused on the end game.
· Current Production Challenges (20-25 min) Desired Outcome: Determine which are under our control and fixable
· Equipment Problems (15-20 Min) Desired outcome: Determine top three priorities for fiscal 2012-2013 budget
· Scheduling (5-10min) Desired outcome: Address re-occurring problems.
2. Ask Questions That Challenge & Make People Visualize
The best facilitators know that the questions they ask are critical.
A question like this quickly gets people involved and prompts more useful answers. A good starter question adds enough detail to make people visualise or revisit the situation. It is much more stimulating than, "What are your current production problems?"
3. Keep The Group On Target
Some responses from participants will be right in line with the discussion, but some will veer off track and some may even be unclear. The wise facilitator reacts to those situations with questions. The weak facilitator reacts with a statement.
By asking questions, instead of making prescriptive statements, you encourage participants to seek their own solutions. When a participant keeps repeating the same point, you might say, "Can you tell us what we have left out?" When a participant goes off topic, you might respond with, "Yes, but I am wondering how that affects production numbers."
All the best during your future facilitations.