The way you present information matters

Which would you find more frightening: undergoing a major surgical procedure that has a 95 per cent survival rate or one that causes death in one out of 20 patients?

If you are like most people, you would find the latter statistic far more worrisome, even though mathematically the two statements are the same.

The difference is that numbers imply real people. For example, a 2% chance of misfortune sounds low, but if you hear that 2 people out of 100 will be harmed, your brain imagines two actual people suffering an injury.

The lesson from this is that when conveying a positive message you should use real numbers, not percentages. If you are describing a benefit of your product or service, expressing it in absolute numbers will maximise its impact.

So, instead of “90% of our customers rate this product excellent” say, “9 out of 10 of our customers rate this product excellent.”

Source: Roger Dooley author of Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing – a practical guide to how the brain works and how that relates to everyday marketing ideas’. 

Visual courtesy of iStock

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Jurek Leon is a storyteller, speaker and trainer. Subscribe to Jurek's FREE monthly 'Terrific Tips' e-newsletter at Alternatively, email