Making numbers stick

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If you have followed my work on presentations for a little while, you probably know that the most fascinating thing for me when it comes to visually expressing ideas is the challenge that comes from having to turn abstract ideas into concrete images.

Let me explain what I mean by that.

I am working with a presentation right now where I needed to make that connection between the abstract and the concrete. To do that well, I need to dramatize my numbers so that my audience not only understands them but remembers them long after I have spoken. How do you do that? How do you translate the number into something real?

Translation requires you put the number into a different visual context. For instance, I used this principle was when I worked on an infographic for a restaurant chain. The information to be delivered was that this chain made 12 million pancakes every year. How do you create a abstract to concrete bridge to make it easier to understand?

This is how I did it. Each pancake being about 5 inches in diameter means that it will take 12000 pancakes to cover 1 mile. Which means that if you lined up 12 million pancakes that would be about 1000 miles. Which is the distance between Los Angeles and Denver!

The final information went as follows: We serve 12 million pancakes every year! If you were to line them up, it would cover the distance between Los Angeles and Denver!

So the take away from this video, is look for bridges. If it is quantity, look at distance travelled or bring it down to percentages. If it is deaths by a disease, compare it with death by accidents or tragedies. If you are discussing sales of large corporations, compare it with the GDP of a small country. As you can see there are many ways to make these comparisons. This is a very fascinating topic for me. Converting abstract ideas into visual metaphors!

Thanks for watching.

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