How to make numbers in your presentations interesting.

Do you want to avoid having the eyes of your audience glaze over as you present your sixty-seventh power point slide of dry data? Here are some tips for making research data interesting, meaningful and compelling:

1. Make it come alive to the senses.

Relating your numbers to something your audience can see, hear, taste, touch, feel or that affects them profoundly. Our senses are processed in the same part of the brain as our emotions and memory, so the audience will not only wake up when you link it to their senses, they will also remember the content you shared.


Boring Statistic – Our new plastic wrap has a food moisture retention rate that is 72% higher than the current popular brand.
Sense Translation – Pass around half an orange wrapped in your new brand and a half in the popular brand, each having been stored in the same fridge for one month. Your brand looks fresh. The other is shriveled and brown. Ask them which they would like to eat.

Boring Statistic – Intimate space extends out from the body approximately 16 inches. We prefer to have a zone of space between us and strangers that extend out from the front of our bodies 16 inches.
Sense Translation – Have someone stand across the room facing toward you.  Walk toward them telling them to say “stop” when you get too close. They will say stop approximately 16 inches from you. You can then extend your arm out and show them how the the length of your arm from the fingertip to the elbow is about 16 inches. Or ask someone to walk up and shake hands with you and then show them how 16 inches is about the distance they have you stopped at to shake hands

Boring Statistic – We produce 3.4 bits of data every 15 minutes. (First you can Make it Real by saying, “That is enough data to write on 2049 yards of ticker tape.”)
Sense Translation – Hold up a 100-yard ball of string and say, “That’s like 200 balls of string” and start wrapping the string around the outer edges of the room while adding, “…enough to wrap around this room 400 times.

2. Simplify the wording to increase understanding. Don’t oversimplify and insult your audience, but simplify to be respectful.

TYGACIL is a product that provides physicians a simplified, empiric management for polymicrobial infections.

Translation:  TYGACIL simplifies treatment for the multiple microbial infections.
Even Simpler: TYGCIL makes is easier to fight different infections.

3. Compare abstract data with something familiar and concrete.

A number all by itself is abstract and meaningless. Take a number and relate it to something people are familiar with.


Abstract Statistic – “Delta Airlines burns about 2.5 billion gallons of jet fuel a year.”
Make it Real – “Picture the Georgia aquarium. It’s really big, isn’t it? Well that’s enough jet fuel to fill its 5 million gallon tank 500 times!”

Abstract Statistic – Increasing the cost of each parcel we deliver by a penny would increase our profit by $136,000 a day.
Make it Real – That means we could add four new delivery vans a day to our fleet for the next year.

Abstract Statistic – The old chemical process cools to five bits per billion. The new process cools at 7,000 bits per billion.
Make it Real – The old process is equal to the cooling power of a single ice cube in a swimming pool of boiling water. The new process has so much more cooling power it’s like taking an ice cube the size of a swimming pool and putting it into a glass of boiling water.

Abstract Statistic -TYGACIL is unaffected by resistance mechanisms that have affected antibacterial drug use.
Make it Real – Like a picky child waving off broccoli, antibacterial drugs have been affected by resistance mechanisms or Tygacil is like TV’s “Super Nanny” resistance to the protests of spoiled kids Tygacil is unaffected by resistance mechanisms.

4. Deliver it with gusto.

Use voice, body language, emotional emphasis and repetition to make it pop.


Dry Statistic – That’s an increase in profit margin of 50 percent in the last quarter.
Gusto Delivery – Gesturing with your outstretched palm show where it was last year at your stomach and then put your palm above your head to show the 50 percent increase.

Dry Statistic – “…which produces waste at 500 million gallons a day.”
Gusto Delivery – When you get to “…five hundred million…” raise the volume level to shout and slow down your delivery.

Dry Statistic – Coca Cola sells 4.5 billion cases of soft drinks in the U.S. annually.
Gusto Delivery – Say 4.5 billion normally then repeat it, whispering and elongating the word “billionnnnnnn” as you raise your eyebrows and show an amazed expression.

Dry Statistic – TYGACIL simplifies treatment for the multiple microbial infections.
Gusto Delivery – as you say simplifies slow down the word as you lift your voice in a light, positive, happy delivery raising your arms high or snapping your fingers to show it’s a snap.  As you say the word multiple increase your volume and punch the word with force and drama.

Dry Statistic – TYGACIL is unaffected by resistance mechanisms that have affected antibacterial drug use.
Gusto Delivery – as you deliver the word unaffected increase your volume and hit the prefix UN with gusto and lift your energy. As you say have affected bring up your volume on the word have, vocally emphasize and put a little of displeasure in your voice.

Now you have four great ways to pep up your dry data. Use them in your next presentation and turn what could be audience snores into rousing applause.

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Patti Wood

Patti Wood MA, is the Body Langauge Expert. As a top Speaker, Coach & Author she provides comprehensive group and one-on-one training. You can learn more about Patti Wood at You can contact Patti directly at