What is the best way to feature statistics in a presentation or speech? It’s a question that I’m often asked, as a corporate speechwriter. After all almost everyone whatever their sector has to mention the figures and numbers at some point or other.

How you use them during your presentation or speech is very much up to you, though. Statistics can be striking and memorable and can make a point. A price, a percentage or a proportion can define an issue in the simplest, bluntest terms. Or it can be dull and have the effect of switching off the audience.

When it comes to using figures in a speech for presentation, as a corporate speechwriter, I have five pieces of advice. The first is only to include things that are relevant to the audience. This sounds obvious but so many people forget it. Making sure that the figure will affect your audience in a good or a bad way is essential for grabbing their attention. What will it mean to each of them as an employee or a member of your organisation? How much will each man woman and child in the country benefit or even suffer in relation to this figure?

Second, less is more when it comes to figures and statistics. This means only using the most important. As with key messages, if you bombard people with a whole host of prices, statistics or percentages they will remember nothing. However, if you give them one or two points or just a couple of figures they are far more likely to take these on board.

Third, try and present your figures visually. If you can do this on a PowerPoint presentation it usually works well. But you can also offer a visual representation in your choice of language. How many times something would fill the dome of St Paul’s or how many football pitches equal the size of something are both clichés but this kind of simple image still works. Find your own, and make it unusual and striking and above all visual and you will produce a better, more memorable speech presentation.

Fourth, put it into context. Five per cent might not sound much – but if it’s a country’s annual growth rate in the current world economic situation then it’s quite impressive. Similarly something doubling might sound quite impressive but if in previous years it’s increased by three-, four- or even five-fold then doubling is actually a reduction in the rate of increase. Whenever I write a speech or presentation I make sure that the audiences being told why a figure is significant and what to think about it.

Finally, this a small point, but it’s one that I always recommend when I’m working as a speechwriter or helping people to deliver speeches and presentation. When you deliver a figure or statistic in your speech, pause for a moment afterwards in order to let it sink in to the audience.

Figures like words are a useful communications tool – but only if used properly.