Facts are everywhere. We have facts about almost every conceivable thing in existence. Facts may have names, numbers, and numerous bullet points. Facts fill volumes of dictionaries and encyclopedias. And there is one thing that all facts have in common…
Facts by themselves are boring!
Fill any Powerpoint presentation with bullet points of facts and you’ll likely put your audience asleep. Blog about facts and your readers may not make it to the end of your post. Strike up a fact filled conversation and watch the eyes glaze over.
In your next speech, just give them the facts and you’ll probably find that your only audience member that is left awake is Joe Friday. And you’ll also find one other important thing…
Facts are not memorable!
When you just present a list of data, most people cannot remember it. You’ll be lucky if your intended recipient can remember the first item on the list. That is because…
Facts are inherently slippery.
The bigger the numbers and the longer the names, the harder it will be to remember the items. Facts are like teflon to our minds… they just don’t stick.
In business, sales, and in most any conversation we all have facts that we would like to convey in a memorable way. We want to get our fact filled ideas across.
So how can we do this?
Here are three trios that I think may help to get your points across.
The Three C’s: Contrast, Context, and Comparison
Contrast: When you look at a square of yellow by itself it’s just that… a square of yellow. But if we surround our square of yellow with a black color, our eyes suddenly see the contrast and the yellow pops.
Context: When you take similar items and add something dissimilar you have taken something out of context. This item sticks out and is quickly recognizable.
Comparison: When you have data by itself it usually doesn’t mean much. But when you can compare your data with other data in a graph or other comparison format, your data really stands out.
The Three P’s: Picture, Presentation, & Performance
Picture: They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Frame your facts with pictures and people will be able to SEE what your facts are all about.
Presentation: Present your facts in an interesting way using graphics, icons, and pictures for added emphasis. Add emotional pictures to draw people into your story.
Performance: When you take your facts, weave them into a story, and present them in a live performance, you’ll bring your audience into the story and make the facts come alive. This performance can be a speech, a play, or even a business simulation.
The Three S’s: Stories, Surprise, & Strategy
Stories: Tell a story… make a point! Stories are inherently powerful tools for making your ideas stick. People remember stories, especially if you add word pictures and emotion. Powerful stories are like duct tape for your facts. They will stick!
Surprise: Add the element of surprise to your facts. Find things that don’t add up or are intriging. The element of surprise is a powerful way to keep your audience on the edge of their seats. Unfortunately, surprise only works once, so make sure to keep it a secret until your are ready to reveal it.
Strategy: Tie your facts together into a purposeful strategy. Paint the vision and the path for your audience and they will come along for the journey. A great strategy is inherently interesting.
Take these ideas and use them together to take your boring facts and make them memorable. Outline a strategy, add contrast and surprise and put your audience into a compelling drama. Tie this together with a compelling performance and your next presentation will surely be a memorable one.
For a compelling read on this subject, be sure to pick up a copy of Made to Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath.