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From the desk of Steve Lowell, Master Speaker and Mentor to those who speak in public.

Preparing For a Powerful Delivery

Get the Facts

Statements beginning with, “Studies show…” or, “Experts believe…” and, “They say…” are not examples of good evidence.

If you’re going to present a claim, and then state that it’s supported by studies, by experts or by others, you should know which studies are being referred to, what experts you’re talking about, and who “they” are. You should also know the actual facts and figures, whenever possible.

Television commercials are notorious for providing vague evidence to support a claim. For example, a commercial might refer to studies claiming that seven out of ten dentists recommend a specific brand of toothpaste. You’ve probably seen those commercials. In reality, how much faith do you place in those claims? How well does the evidence really support the claim?

If the commercial referred to a 2010 study, completed by the American Dental Association, in which 10,000 dentists were surveyed, and 7,000 of those dentists recommended ABC toothpaste over all other brands, would you find that a little more credible? Most people would, and so would a live audience.

When presenting results from studies, relevant statistics or cited quotes as evidence, it’s always a good policy to identify the source, and even have a copy of the actual report, of the book or the article in your hands, held up nice and high as a visual cue when you refer to it.

In my keynotes, I’ll often refer to scientific information. When I do that, I refer to a recognized expert, provide the expert’s name, and the title of the book, then, I’ll raise the book up for the audience to see. This way, my audience knows that I have facts to back up my claims, and there’s an actual source they can see.

Providing specifics whenever possible lets your audience know that you’ve actually done your homework, and it prepares you to answer the question, “Who says so, besides you?”

So, what’s the lesson? When providing evidence, provide specific facts and sources as much as possible.

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