Follow up ‘Presenting data and statistics in a speech’ workshop
On Monday 24th September, instead of our regular meeting we had a workshop presented by Frédéric Schütz: ‘Presenting data and statistics in a speech’, where we learned about several points:
- Our brain is not able to represent large numbers. Above one million, it just replace them by ‘a lot’.
- Our intuition does not interpret percentages well. It is easy to get abused by them.
- Taking in account the variability data: performing several measurements of the same value inevitably gives different results. As humans, we have the temptation of finding an rational explanation for the differences, even when they are solely due to randomness.
- Numbers do not live in a vacuum: they only make sense if they are taken in comparison with other values; they have a history, and are not hard truths.
After the workshop, I followed up with Frédéric and asked him three questions.
If our members should take a single thing with them, what would that be?
That “numbers must always be taken in comparison with something else”.
If you had had more time, what other concepts would you have talked about?
There is plenty more to say, starting with ways to summarize the data using e.g. means or medians – some members of the audience specifically mentioned this topic in discussions after the presentation. Otherwise, the next logical step would be to discuss different ways to represent data graphically, and how to choose from them.
You visited our club last month, what were you first impressions of Toastmasters Bern?
I was impressed by the perfect organization, the dedication of the members and the benevolent attitude in order to help people progress – and I was surprised by the number of customs that take place during a meeting. It was my first visit to any Toastmasters club, though, so I cannot say if this welcoming atmosphere is a specificity of the group in Bern or if all clubs are like this.