How to multiply the power of a single anecdote

Anecdotes and examples engage people – but a discerning audience may object that they don’t prove anything. Combining the engagement of an anecdote with the credibility of numbers will multiply the effectiveness of both.

Watch this video produced by The Girl Effect to see the power of this:

Dan Heath has “deconstructed” the video on the Made to Stick blog. Here’s the point I want to highlight:

The approach they use is “micro –> macro”. First, they paint a picture of a single girl. They show how the investment has cascading effects in her family and in her community. Then, they shift to the macro. “Multiply that by 600 million girls in the developing world…” [The zooming-out effect with the dots is a nice touch to make this more concrete.] This micro/macro approach also works well for entrepreneurs — I’ve often seen entrepreneurs highlight a single, vivid customer situation and then switch to the macro (”Our market research shows that there’s a $1.2 billion market made up of 181,000 customers with the same needs as this one.”)

You can use this micro to macro technique in your presentations to harness the power of a single anecdote.

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