As the leading media training and presentation consultancy for law firms we quite often find that lawyers participating in our media coaching sessions have to mention figures. It might be sums of money or the growth rate of a particular business sector. The lawyers we train can also find themselves talking about issues such as an increase in domestic abuse cases or a cut in the amount of paperwork brought about by Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
So how do you talk about figures and statistics in presentations and media interviews in a way that will not only interest your audience but will ensure that they take them on board correctly?
1.Keep it simple.
It’s difficult for people to take on board precise figures such as 19 per cent or 73 per cent, for example. So, simplify it by talking about “one in five of us,” or “nearly three quarters.”
2.Stress any figures as you speak.
We suggest in our media training sessions for law firms that when you quote a figure in a media interview or presentation, pause for a moment before you say it, state the figure while putting extra energy and emphasis behind your delivery, and then pause again afterwards to allow it to sink in.
3. Less is more.
There will obviously be occasions when you have to quote a lot of figures and statistics but generally try and limit this to two or three in a media interview and only slightly more in a presentation. Stick to those that are most striking.
4.Break it down.
Politicians and many other spokespeople throw around references to millions of pounds, billions of dollars or thousands of tons of CO2 when they talk – but it means very little to us. During our media training courses for lawyers, we advise breaking down figures to small amounts. “That’s just X for each one of us,” is easier to take on board, for instance. Similarly, phrases such as “a million pounds a day,” or “just five pounds a week,” are easier to relate to. Charities are very good at this. They don’t talk about the hundreds of thousands or even millions of pounds they need to raise, they break down amounts to the cost of a blanket, a toilet or an injection, all of which might cost just a few pounds.
5.Use a visual simile.
It’s difficult for anybody, especially if they’re not a statistician or a financial specialist to understand what 1million looks like, what 2billion actually means or, at the other end of the scale, what the weight of a gram really feels like. References to there being enough to fill the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral or something being the length of X double-deck buses might be clichés but at least people can visualise it. With a presentation you can obviously create a slide with an image or a visual to illustrate a figure. As we explain during our media training courses and our presentation courses, making something visual is more likely to make it stick in people’s minds. After all, think how so much of the language of understanding is visual – do you see what I mean? Is that clear? Do you get the picture?
6.Email them on after a media interview.
If you’re a lawyer doing a media interview either for the written media or radio or TV, it’s always a good idea to email any figures you’ve quoted to the journalist afterwards. The print media can use a lot more statistics because the audience sees them written down whereas in broadcast interviews they’re just mentioned in a moment. On the other hand on the television, we might create a graphic (sometimes known as an Aston, after the company that pioneered this technology) and so again we’ll want to get your figures correct.
As we say explain in our media training sessions for lawyers, your audience certainly will see what you mean and understand your figures and statistics if you follow these simple tips for using figures and statistics in media interviews and presentations.
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