Sticky Statistics

Statistics Soup
Sometimes it feels like life has become a series of statistics. Thing A is the #1 cause of Disease B, only 56% of Demographic C believes in Opinion D, and so on.

At some point, we become worn down by the numbers, and they lose their impact. So, what do you do when you’re in a situation where you have to communicate an important statistic amidst a sea of other people’s data? Don’t make the mistake of delivering stats and numbers all by themselves.

Instead, take a page from the American Heart Association and make your point using a story. We just stumbled upon this video and, well, let’s just say it feels familiar to yours truly (a mother of three boys).

Children running around the house? Check. A thousand things to do? Check. Reviewing a proposal for a new client while dodging bouncy balls? I could write a book on that skill.

And let’s not forget, “Could you make it ten minutes instead of two? The house is a mess.” Check.

Yikes – that person having a heart attack could be me.

Or it could be your wife.

This clip is sticky (we’ll teach you more on that here) because it’s unexpected, as well as humorous, emotional and story-based. And this video has already saved at least one person’s life.

How do you make statistics sticky? Begin by connecting the dots.

  • 1:  Numbers don’t stick. You’ve got to drag your statistics into the range where your audience’s intuition works. Chances are – you might also need to simplify the statistic, or convert it into a more familiar, tangible number.
  • 2:  Think through a day in the life of your audience. Bring their experience to bear through your statistic. Use a human scale, such as hours spent with their children. What does their day-to-day routine look like? Picture them waking up in the morning. What are their fears, their dreams and their inspirations?
  • 3:  Tell me a story about it. Get the audience to say, “Oh, that’s me.” In the video, the answer was obvious: Moms have a million things going on. We worry about our kids instead of ourselves. And no matter how much control we have, shocking things can still happen to us. Play up that angle, and voila!

Do you need a movie star like Elizabeth Banks in order to deliver a sticky message? No – these ideas are all around us. You just have to make the connection between your narrative and your audience.

What other serious subjects have you seen delivered as funny narratives? Share them with us in the comments, below!

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