How To Use Facts, Quotes and Statistics Appropriately

There are so many elements you can add to a presentation to make it more effective and interesting for your audience. Three of these are facts, quotes, and statistics, and the reason they are effective in public speaking is simple: Adding support from outside sources reinforces the validity of the information you are presenting and the statements you make.

Facts in Public Speaking

As a public speaker, it is in your best interest to include solid facts in your presentation to demonstrate to your audience that you know what you are talking about, and you have evidence to back up your statements. A fact is an objective piece of information that can be verified as being true. For example, it is a fact that the earth is round. We know this because we have seen proof in images from space.

Using facts in your presentations gives you a strong starting point with your audience. By providing facts, you establish yourself as an authority—a credible source of information who has a solid understanding of the topic and who can provide relevant data that has been confirmed as true. There’s nothing wrong with sharing your opinions during a speech, but those opinions will hold more value for your audience if they first see that you’ve done the research to thoroughly understand the topic, and that your opinions are based on facts and not just emotion.

How to Use Facts:

  • As an opener—Sharing an interesting or little-known fact can grab your audience’s attention right off the mark
  • To support your opinions—By showing your listeners that your opinion on a subject or situation is based on indisputable fact, your reasons for holding that opinion appear more valid

Public Speakers Need Good Quotes

Quotes are a great way to arouse emotion from your audience members, but more than that, they can reinforce your ideas. Strong quotes can provide depth to your speech or presentation; they can make people laugh, cry, or consider something from a new perspective.

You can use quotes to emphasize practically any point you’re trying to make, but use them appropriately and in context. And only quote people or sources that matter to your audience. For instance, the late Jim Rohn, an entrepreneur and motivational speaker once said: “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” The fact that that quote came from someone who made a career of choosing words to inspire others makes it more valuable to your audience than if it came from your mother or a friend.

How to Use Quotes:

  • As an opener—Use a strong quote to set the tone of your presentation. A humorous quote will warm up your audience; a serious quote will (hopefully) evoke emotion from them.
  • To support your ideas or opinions—Use quotes from notable and relevant sources to back up your position on a subject, and always verify the authenticity and accuracy of the quotes you choose. Don’t forget to attribute the quote!

Statistics Drive Your Point Home

By including statistics in the form of numbers and facts in your presentation or speech, you add realism, and that makes abstract ideas more manageable for your audience to process and understand. Using statistics will also make your statements more compelling because you have exact figures to back up what you’re saying.

Statistics also allow you to make generalizations about a large group based on the findings of a smaller group. For example: According to a 2003 study completed by Michigan State University, the average person metabolizes alcohol at the rate of about one drink per hour. This statistic is based on a study of people who consumed alcohol and were monitored in order to determine how long it took their bodies to metabolize the alcohol.

Certainly not every person in the world was included in the study, but based on the its results, it’s not unreasonable to assume that all human bodies metabolize alcohol in the same way and in the same approximate timeframe as those participating in the study.

How to Use Statistics:

  • To elicit emotion from the audience—Using statistics can have an emotional impact on your audience by drawing attention to facts that matter to them. A statistic about the number of children who go to bed hungry every morning can illustrate the issue of poverty in your community
  • To boost your credibility—Citing statistics shows your audience that you have researched the material you are presenting to them, and when you choose statistics from credible sources, you increase your own credibility by association.

Improve your next presentation by using strong facts, quotes and statistics to support your message. For other helpful tips, visit the Resources page over at Effective Presentations (our parent company), where you’ll find quotes we’ve hand-picked for an awesome presentation.

9 thoughts on “How To Use Facts, Quotes and Statistics Appropriately”

  1. Using quotes, facts and stats isn’t only important for public speaking; it’s important for pretty much every form of communication. Although don’t go too heavy on the quotes, or you’ll kinda look like a dummy.

  2. I once sat in this worker’s convention that we all needed to sit through and while it was boring, I couldn’t help but notice that the woman speaking to use misquoted several people in the presentation. It really put me off from the whole lecture really. If you are going to quote people, specially historic figures, be sure to get the quote right!

  3. I like it when speakers use interesting stats to open a presentation. I’ve learned a lot of useless (but pretty cool) trivia that way.

  4. Nicely put. I’m so glad you mentioned the emotional impact of a relevant statistic. Some people might think it’s counter-intuitive for just a number to affect people like that. But that’s the power of choosing one number, rather than showing a whole chart or table! By the way, you might like these 3 examples of startling statistics, on video.

  5. I use too much data when presenting. I get caught up in the numbers and that’s all I can think about. Good article.

  6. Pingback: Angela

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