conscious capitalism | March 10, 2013

Don't Spout Numbers—Tell A Story: Douglas Merrill On Educating An Audience

"Your brain isn’t a computer; it’s part of your humanness. It wants to recall information not as mere data, but as stories," conscious capitalism speaker Douglas Merrill writes in Forbes. "The key to remembering facts so you can give great interviews or speeches, or just be better organized, is to embed those facts into stories." As the co-founder explains in the article, the key to delivering a presentation that will resonate with the audience is to avoid simply laying out the data at face value. While factual data and stats are often integral parts of a talk, he says it's important to make your story contextually interesting, too. Not only is it easier for the audience to remember your key points—but it's more likely that you will deliver a better speech as well.

You can apply this strategy to any type of public presentation. Job interviews, media appearances, and even remembering where you put your keys, can go a lot smoother if you weave the facts into an interesting story. Merrill says that he even does this himself—taking much of the stress out of remembering the data-heavy content of his talks. "Stories have everything that facts wish they had but never will: color, action, characters, sights, smells, sounds, emotions–stuff that we can easily relate to," he writes. "Stories put facts into a meaningful, and therefore memorable, context."

Considering Merrill's work with ZestFinance relies so heavily on big data and number crunching, it is especially important to articulately and meaningfully convey information at the company. Before he started the affordable, short-term loan service, Merrill was the Chief Information Officer at Google. He specializes in championing cultures of innovation within his companies and teaches his clients to do the same. His also believes in conscious capitalism, and argues that a well run business can help the average citizen solve the problems we all face on a day-to-day basis.