While numbers are thought of as the universal language of business, most of us don’t use them in our daily communications unless we are calculating costs or analyzing data. Numbers, when used well, can make a strong case for any presentation.
The three-minute elevator pitch has been used by many of us, as a sort of benchmark to increase the chance that you can hold a person’s attention in a fluid environment. Based on a recent study conducted by Draftcb, consumers give marketers approximately 6.5 seconds from the time they engage “lean in” to a message, to the point where they make a decision. Assuming this research is accurate, it’s likely due in part to the shorter attention span brought on by our dependency on the internet.
The use of numbers can help condense a presentation into an effective and concise one. For example, "Apple Surpasses Microsoft To Become The World’s Biggest Tech Company—AAPL market cap 226.838 versus MSFT 225.698." (Market capitalization represents the public consensus on the value of a company's equity). Or, "One child dies of malnutrition every 2.3 seconds. One hundred million more people could be fed if Americans reduced their intake of meat by a mere 10%."
Numbers aren’t just for accountants. When used strategically and creatively, they can tell a story because they're simple, they demonstrate intelligence, and they show that you have properly researched your subject. Bill Taylor of the Harvard Business Review noted the following about Draftfcb’s 6.5-second research: three simple strategies can help keep your presentation focused on creating an effective message. You should juxtapose: "Put related numbers together to create new information." Try different contexts: "What's the social angle? The green angle? Put it in terms of time, or length, or volume." Turn them over: "2% one way might not be as interesting as 98% the other way."
Cultural localization (a term often used in the software industry) is also important to understand and consider when creating your presentation. Why? Intellectually it is important because it affects the way we think, work, live, and the choices we make. When communicating, you should make sure your content is relevant. It is politically important in situations where cultural localization shows the person(s) that you understand and respect their environment and traditions. For example, what should be the choice of languages used in developed and developing countries when speaking to businesses, banks, or schools? Should you use Hindi or English in Mumbai, India? In the United States should you use one of the various foreign languages found in several cities?