Make size and scale visual
How tiny is tiny? How huge is huge?
How small is small? One-third the size of a ladybug? The size of a sprinkle on an ice cream cone?
Analogy, metaphor, simile and other comparisons can help your readers literally “see” the size and scale you’re communicating.
Help readers see
A J-school friend of mine, The Wall Street Journal reporter Kevin Helliker, used that approach in his Pulitzer Prize-winning explanatory series on aneurysms:
“A radiologist scrutinizing film for gall stones can’t help noticing if an aorta, typically the diameter of a garden hose, measures as large as a soda can.”
OK, now I get it.
Take the ‘Numb’ Out of Numbers
Make statistics understandable and interesting
If your readers are like most, they have, on average, below basic numeracy, or numerical literacy, according a massive international literacy study.
So how well are they understanding your quarterly results?
“Numbers without context, especially large ones with many zeros trailing behind, are about as intelligible as vowels without consonants,” writes Daniel Okrent, former New York Times ombudsman.
Indeed, poorly handled, statistics can make your readers’ eyes glaze over.
At Cut Through the Clutter — our two-day writing master class on April 6-7 in Washington, D.C., and on Aug. 17-18 in San Francisco — you’ll master the art of making numbers understandable as well as interesting.
Specifically, you’ll learn how to:
- Avoid statistics soup and data dumps using three simple steps.
- Help readers understand your numbers by asking one key question every time your fingers reach for the top row of the keyboard.
- Make numbers more emotional by turning them into people, places and things.
- Create meaningful — not discombobulating — charts and graphs.
- Find free tools that create attractive charts for you.
This is the only tight-writing workshop we have planned in Washington, D.C., in 2017. Don’t miss out on your chance to master tight-writing in D.C.! Register now.
Learn to Master the Art of the Storyteller, Catch Your Readers, Get Clicked, Cut Through the Clutter and more
Rather bring Ann in to train your whole team?
Ask about piggybacking on my upcoming engagements in: