I was walking past a 24-hour news screen at our office earlier this week when my attention was drawn to an astonishing statistic: the world’s richest 62 people had as much wealth as the bottom 3.6 billion.
Discussing this with my wife that evening, she’d remembered an arguably more disturbing fact from the story: that 1% of the global population had as much wealth as the other 99%.
Facts and figures are the bread and butter of so much business communication – but often not for the better. They provide useful information, but they often fail to move people to action.
This example shows, however, that the right statistics can be very powerful. So what’s the secret?
Oxfam gained huge PR coverage from two facts that were simple and memorable.
But most of all, they produced a strong emotional response: injustice, anger, sadness perhaps, depending on your viewpoint. They showed a society desperately imbalanced in terms of wealth.
You can use emotion when using facts and figures in your own communications too.
In a recent role, I worked on a brand ambassador programme which helped to create a sense of pride and engagement across all levels of our business.
Colleagues told us that the part they liked best – and remembered most – were the ‘key facts’ we used to describe the huge scope and variety of the business. And again, emotion was key. We used analogies and comparisons to make potentially boring business facts fun, entertaining and surprising – creating a sense of pride in working for such a diverse business.
So next time you’re using facts and figures in your communication, find a way to present them that will stimulate an emotional response.
Because it’s the emotion that moves people to action.