When you want to convey the impact of numbers or statistics, it helps to leave your listeners with a visual image. Using charts or graphs is one way to do that, but it may not always be your most creative or effective choice.
A young 28 year old man with Cystic Fibrosis was speaking at a fundraiser and wanted to make a point about how far we have come in combating this deadly disease.
He began his speech by asking everyone to stand up. When everyone was standing, he asked the people over 35 to sit down. He told his audience that 35 was the average life expectancy today of someone with CF and asked everyone to look at all the people sitting down. It was obvious that over half the audience would not be there if they had CF.
Then he asked for everyone under 20 to sit down. He explained that 20 was the average life expectancy 50 years ago when the CF Foundation was formed. He concluded by pointing out that the people left standing represented an extra 15 years of life, an extension made possible by the generosity of people like those in the room.