Using Numbers for Effective Presentations

    April 17, 2007

My friend Darcy at Fair Isaac Corporation shared a fascinating tip with me for making more effective presentations. This is something I had never really thought about. He says that publishers have long been aware of the power of numbers in grabbing people’s attention. Think about titles of popular books such as "1,000 Places To See Before You Die" and "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People."

Television does it with their countdown shows and websites do it with lists: "AFI’s 100 Greatest American Movies" or "VH1’s 100 Greatest Kid Stars."

And Darcy offers evidence that he spends too much time in supermarket checkout aisles by demonstrating that popular mass market magazines use the trick on their covers all the time.


The idea of an enumerated list of pointers seems to appeal to us as audiences. We know that there is a finite limit to the information we’ll be receiving and that it has been structured and organized, giving us hope that it will be more informative and useful. We also seem to enjoy the challenge of guessing what might be on the list and comparing our ideas with those of the presenter.

Why not give this a try the next time you need to promote a webinar? Instead of a title like "Xycomeginy Software Release 5.0 – New Features," you could make it sing by combining an audience perspective with a list: "8 Ways The New Xycomeginy Release Benefits You."