Can your numbers be Legendary?

Can your numbers be Legendary?

You can love him or hate him, but you can never ignore him. Can you guess who? You’re right.

It’s none other TV’s favorite, “The Legendary Barney Stinson” from the CBS’ hit sitcom “How I Met Your
Mother.”

When you think of Barney, you can’t resist him, be it his charismatic character, his attitude, or his immense confidence. He knew just how to grab the attention of his friends, colleagues, and even his
audience. One can write so much about Barney, but let me highlight one of the most commendable traits that definitely make him my favorite—Barney’s use of Math to demonstrate his argument.
Barney would always come up with weird and crazy ideas and knew exactly how to convince his friends.
Like a true banker, he presented his data with numbers to rationalize his ideas. Now, we know that numbers and data are often perceived as boring.

How did Barney make his storytelling interesting and appealing every time? Can we learn something from his style of sharing pathos in his storytelling?

Use of percentages – Percentages often gives us a better feel about numbers. Let’s say, for example, 415 people out of 500 people in the city go to the gym every day, or let’s say 83% of the total city population goes to the gym every day. Which one sounds more powerful? Yes!
You’re right! It’s the percentage. If you’ve noticed, Barney used 83% as his favorite percentage for representing most of his ideas; almost every data he presented was 83%.  Didn’t it sound impactful then? Definitely! When the numbers are in your favor, present them as percentages. They are easy to understand and will immediately appeal to your audience.

Use of graphs – There is a common saying, “A picture speaks 1000 words,” but “a graph speaks
10 thousand words.” Barney was excellent at graphs. He could validate all his rules via graphs and plot totally irrelevant facts on the X and Y curve making them sound completely plausible. Graphs are happy helpers which help the audience visualize the data. They bring freshness to the storytelling and are visually more appealing than slides with numbers. Additionally, they are
fun and easy to work with. So, the next time you are presenting some data, don’t forget to use
graphs in your PowerPoint presentation.

Keep it odd– Rounding up numbers is a common thing to do in presentations, but simplifying it too much may make your presentation lose its zing. Barney was always very specific about his data. He would always say 83%. Now, imagine Barney saying over 80% people go to the gym instead of his usual 83%. The argument just lost its zing. When presenting numbers avoid using almost (80%) or just over (80%) as it loses its power. However, do round up the units wherever you can, i.e. 83% and not 83.69%. This level of detailing is just not appealing anymore.
So, remember the next time you present numbers, don’t be afraid to portray yourself as Barney. Make use of percentages and graphs wherever possible and keep it specific.

Present your data with impact and make your storytelling legen…wait for it…dary… Legendary!

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