In the past, I have written articles stressing the importance of making data meaningful for our audiences. Drawing inspiration from such sources as Carl Sagan and the Long Island Initiative, I have tried to show examples of why it is important to put statistics into context.
As Chip and Dan Heath emphasize in Made to Stick:
Statistics are rarely meaningful in and of themselves. Statistics will, and should, almost always be used to illustrate a relationship. It’s more important for people to remember the relationship than the number.
A few weeks ago, Jen Rhee of MBAonline gave me the opportunity to use her great info-graphic on the Internet. In the infographic, Jen creatively displayed how much time we spend on the Internet every day using statistics and simple graphics. Unfortunately, as of January 2020, the infographic is no longer online. However, the statistics below are still dramatic.
From a presentation perspective, I particularly like those statistics that Jen puts into context. We can process them more easily. For example:
- We send 294 billion emails each day. It would take the United States Postal Service two years to process that many pieces of mail!
- People write two million blog posts each day (including this one). That’s enough material to fill Time Magazine for 770 years!
- 864,000 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube each day. That’s equivalent to 98 years on non-stop cat videos! (Disclaimer: We have a wonderful tabby who has been with us for 13 years. In all that time, I have not uploaded a single cat video.)
These statistics and images would be very effective in a presentation about the time we speond on the Internet. Of course, you would have to divide the images over several slides.