Speakers Need To Know When Too Much Is Too Much

Speakers Need To Know When Too Much Is Too Much

Data is wonderful, but you need to learn to show, not tell when using statistics
Data is wonderful, but you need to learn to show, not tell when using statistics
Image Credit: Daniel Horacio Agostini

Don’t get me wrong – data is a wonderful thing. However, as speakers we need to be very careful when we encounter data that we want to share with our audience. It can be too easy to just back the truck up and dump a lot of facts and figures onto our audience with the hope that they’ll be able to sort them out. The answer is that they are not going to be able to understand what we’ve shared with them and they’ll leave our presentation confused and lost. What this means for us is that when we try to use statistics and numbers to sway our audience, it’s going to be much better if we use the importance of public speaking to show them what we mean instead of telling them what we mean.

The Problem With Data

Can we all agree that data can be very valuable? However, as a speaker you are going to have to take the time to frame your data in a way that will inspire and engage your audience. Speakers need to realize that if they want to win an audience over to their way of thinking, they are not going to be able to do this by using numbers. The way to convince the skeptic is not through logic. They’ll always come up with a way to not believe what you are telling them. Instead, you need to find a way to win their hearts first.

Making an emotional connection with your audience is going to be the key to a successful speech. We need to understand that no spreadsheet, list of resources, or even a biography is going to be enough to convince someone to believe what we are telling them if they choose to not believe you. A skeptic will always find a reason to not believe what you are telling them. Speakers need to understand that we cannot rely on proof to sway our audience. What our speeches need to do is to find a way to build an emotional connection with our audience that will cause them to believe what we are telling them. We need to find ways to take the data that we have and get it into our audience’s hearts. It is ok to use charts and graphs during your presentation, but you have to keep them simple and take the time to explain to your audience what they are looking at.

When you are putting your presentation together, you have a number of decisions that you are going to have to make. You could show them a number of categories and graphs based on all of the data that you have. However, that is probably not going to allow you to connect with them or allow you to convince them about what you are saying. A much better way to go about doing this would be to show your audience pictures of what the data says is happening. You can show pictures that show bad things that could happen and you can show pictures of good things that could happen.

How To Use Data In Your Next Speech

As speakers we need to understand who is going to be in our next audience. This is important because there is always going to be that one person. You know who I’m talking about. Its the person who likes to point out flaws in numerical data. In fact, they like to do this in front of the rest of your audience. The reason that this is important to you is because no matter how good of an answer you can give to this person, the exchange that you’ll have with them while you are giving your speech may cause your audience doubt your credibility and will make giving your speech that much harder. The way that you can deal with this issue is by making sure that you never present raw data to a large audience.

All data is not created equal. Within the data that you are working with, there will probably be a few data points that show why this data is important. Things like percentages of people affected, total numbers, growth of something over the past year, or even the amount of money that has been spent on something. As a speaker, what you are going to want to do is to take the time to memorize these specific facts and then make sure that you communicate them during your speech’s Q&A session. The reason that you’ll want to put this type of information into the Q&A portion of your speech is because it will show to your audience that you really know what you are talking about. You probably won’t get asked a question that will have to do with the stats that you’ve memorized so you’ll have to work them into one of your answers by yourself.

Any time you give a speech that has a lot of data in it, some members of your audience are going to want to be able to get their hands on it. What this means for you is that once your speech is over, you are going to need to have handouts that you can give to your audience. When we include data into one of our speeches, it turns out that we really don’t have to show our audience graphs or charts. We can simply use words – descriptive words. One way to go about doing this is to tell your audience a good story. In this story make it about one person, place or thing and then when you are done telling it show your audience how this story can be applied to the bigger picture. Using stories, descriptive words, and photos can allow a speaker to use data to establish an emotional connection with your audience.

What All Of This Means For You

Data is a dangerous thing when it comes to giving speeches. If we are not careful we run the risk of loading our speech up with facts and stats and then going out them and dumping it all over our audience which won’t allow them to experience the benefits of public speaking. They won’t understand what we’ve told them or what it means and they’ll just end up leaving our speech dazed and confused. As speakers it is our responsibility to find out what the best way to present data to our audience is.

As speakers we need to realize that no matter how powerful data is, this is not what it is going to take in order to win an audience over. We’ve got to find a way to win our audience’s hearts. In order to accomplish this, we must build an emotional connection with them. If we present data to our audience in the form of numbers, charts, or tables, we run the risk of losing their attention. A much better way to go about doing this is to show them pictures that show what the data really means. In every audience there will be that one person who wants to disagree with your data. Prevent this from happening by never using your raw data as a part of your presentation. Make sure that you memorize some important points from the data that you are using. You’ll be able to make use of these points during your speech’s Q&A session. Make sure that you come prepared to your speech. Always have handouts for your audience after the speech is over.

Data is a powerful tool and speakers can make use of it to convince audiences about what they are telling them. However, too much data can cause you to lose your audience. As speakers it is our responsibility to take our data and then transform it in such a way that our audience will be able to take it in an understand it. By doing this, you’ll be able to form an emotional connection with your audience during your next speech.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How many charts do you think that you could use in one speech before it became too much for your audience?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As speakers, every time that we deliver a speech, we’d like to be able to use the importance of public speaking to draw our audience into our speech. We’d like to make it so that they experience what we are telling them. A great way to make this happen is to include stories in our speech. Stories allow us to introduce outside characters, move the talk to a new location, and if we want even to move through time. However, a story can be a tricky thing to include in a speech. As speakers we need to make sure that when we include a story in our speech, we go about doing it the right way.

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