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Lesson 6. Gather Your Evidence > Plan Your Information-Gathering Process - Pg. 26

Gather Your Evidence 26 · Statistics. --Many business presentations are filled with statistics--sometimes to the exclusion of everything else. Obviously statistics are appropriate if you're delivering a financial report to the CEO, but they can be overdone with other audiences that may not think in statistical terms. · Quotations. --Quotes from a recognized expert in a field can lend the voice of authority to what you're saying. They can come from articles in magazines and newspapers, and many publica- tions also host online forums where you can find out what other people are thinking about your topic. In addition, some speakers like to use quotations from their peers, subordinates, or cus- tomers to give credence to a central message. · Examples. --These can come from almost anywhere. Perhaps you've used examples from other companies in your field to provide support for your key points. You might also draw examples from vendors and customers. Each time you can cite a "for instance" it strengthens your argu- ments. Tip Variety broadens the appeal of your material. Some listeners relate best to statistics, while others may prefer analogies or anecdotes. · Anecdotes. --Personal stories from your own experience or from someone else's seem to be retained by many listeners long after a presentation has ended. Introduce a concept, then follow it with an anecdote to illustrate your point. Or tell your story, then draw a moral or a point from it. Either approach can be extremely effective. Try to include as much variety as possible in the way you present your ideas. Variety is one way to keep your audience interested and involved in your presentation. Plan Your Information-Gathering Process Collecting information for your presentation may stretch out over several days or several weeks, depending on when you start working on a scheduled speech. Make sure you leave enough time to do an adequate job. As you come across articles or other data that look promising, store them away in a file. You'll probably collect far more than you need. But this will give you a broad range of material from which to make your final selections. Draw from your own experiences. Before you start collecting data, don't forget to mine your own experiences for possible quotations, anecdotes, and so on. Spend some quiet time thinking about things you know that could support your ideas, and expect some useful thoughts to occur to you while you're taking a shower, jogging, or commuting to work. Apply Criteria for Including Evidence Since you'll probably have more information than you need, how should you decide what to include and what to omit? Use the five-C test: · Correct. --The material must be accurate. You don't want to present anything that has flaws in it. This will only be an embarrassment. · Complete. --Make sure that the information, especially statistical data, is complete, and there are not any important points missing. Caution Don't take any chances with your evidence. All of it should conform to the five-C criteria. Otherwise, you may risk undermining the strength of your arguments and losing your au- dience.