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Chapter 15. Start at the Very Beginning,... > The Numbers Game - Pg. 123

Start at the Very Beginning, A Very Good Place to Start 123 Statistics mean numbers, but numbers are meaningless unless they are taken as part of a whole. This means you have to place the numbers in the context of something understandable to your audience. Your task is to cut and stitch them to fit the fabric of your speech. Never, never distort the numbers; instead, make them work to suit your audience and purpose. Here are some example statistics from the 1995 Information Please Almanac about traffic fatalities. Well, that was depressing and dull. Can you imagine the reaction you would get if you started a speech that way? You would have to go from table to table, picking heads off plates. It's more interesting to rephrase the statistics this way: "Motor vehicle collisions cause one death every 13 minutes, and one injury every 14 seconds." That's better, but I'm still not jumping up and down to hear more, are you?