Sprinkled Statistics

This is a really simple recipe using a little data to add depth to a report or presentation.

You will need

  • A report or presentation
  • A source of data (prepared or raw)

Step by step

Step 1: Choose your dish

Read through a report you have written or presentation you are giving and note down any points where there might be a statistic from public data that would help people understand what you have said.

Step 2: Sprinkle on statistics

Search out some statistic and sprinkle them in. Even if the data you find isn’t easy for machines to read, it should be possible as a human to pick out numbers which help you explain your case.

Step 3: Season and serve

There are many variations on sprinkled statistics. Some people like to simply add in some numbers to presentation slides, others like to drop the numbers they find into a spreadsheet and create some graphs. Here are some simple variations we like:

  • The quick quiz - Showing your audience don't know as much as they think they know is always fun way to start a presentation (it worked for Hans Rosling ) - so why not put together a few slides that introduce the title of a statistics (e.g. “The number of under 18s in this ward”) before a slide showing the answer.
  • Show the size of it- If you have a slide comparing numbers from two different years where there was a big change, simply set their font-sizes to represent the difference. 

    For example, if spending on parks in one year was £2.4m, and the next year it was £1.2m, write £2.4m in 24pt text, next to £1.2m in 12pt text. If they’re to small, just double them both up until they fill the screen and show the difference.
  • Ratings and rankings- If you find a spreadsheet of data that compares your area to other local areas you could use the sort feature to find rough-rankings against a particular number (e.g. percentage of people in work). You can then tell readers your approximate ranking amongst other areas, for example, “we are approximately 55 out of 300 local areas when it comes to having high unemployment - that puts firmly in the third with highest unemployment”.

    Take care to only sort on percentages, and search the web to check if an official ranking, where statisticians have looked at the details to let you take out the 'approximately'

Examples and variations

Got an example of sprinkled statistics to share? Edit this page to add it in…

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recipe/sprinkled_statistics.txt · Last modified: 2012/10/24 10:04 (external edit)
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