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It is hard for the human brain to conceptualize huge numbers. It is simply out of reach. If you present huge numbers to an audience, you have to keep that fact in mind.

As a speaker, we need to translate those numbers into something more concrete, understandable, digestible.

Today, I came across this illustration of the size of the Internet. It gives the answer for the question: How big is the Internet? It is named: If you printed the Internet. It is a good example of huge numbers translation.





Those illustrations are effective because they translate the numbers in something we know. Minutes, days, years.

Sometimes, the numbers are still too big after being transposed. We need a second transposition.  3 800 years doesn’t mean anything to me. It is too big.  Imagining Ancient Babylonians with inkjet printer is more effective. That comparison is talking to me.

While presenting data in a document or, while speaking, we must translate it to be reachable. We have to put it at audience level.

Best, adapt the example to your audience. If you’re talking to car dealers, tell them: If you printed the Internet, you will have enough paper to fill the trunk of 12 000 cars (I am guessing). How big is 12 000 cars? Bumper to bumper, it is a 66 km long file. THAT means something to car dealers.  (Adapting your speech to an audience – blog post: Put your audience glasses)

In your next speech, make your number digestible and adapt your example to your audience.

Other illustrations in the complete post of: If You Printed The Internet …


Share with me: What good adaptation of huge numbers have you done lately?


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Posted by Denis François Gravel

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Presenting data is more efficient with visual aids. Pie charts and bar graph are used everyday in presentations, meetings or reports.

We are used to them…..and sometimes bored by them. They often looked all the same.

This is a regular pie chart. The kind we sees regularly in presentation. This one is about Star Trek fans preference.

Pie chart

Questioned fans indicate « The Next Generation » as their prefer Star Trek (this detail is not related to my point. It is just to satisfy your curiosity). Source :




It is possible to add some creativity in the data presentation. If you have a creative visualization, you will keep your audience attention instead of boring them.

I suggest that you boldly go beyond pie chart (I am influenced by the last Star Trek movie. I loved it)

To help you, here is some examples of data visualization that goes beyond pie chart


This graph indicate the evolution of media: “we are going to take a little tour through the history of information, or more specifically, where to focus your efforts if you want get in touch with other people



If the world was village of 100 people, is a series of world’s statistics. The creativity of the visual is obvious.

Sexual Orientation Nation

More here : The World of 100


The last example illustrate the evolution of the difference of salary between an average worker and a CEO from 1970 to 2005. I am not an economy specialist, but it help me understand one of the problem that led to the actual crisis.

CEO Salary 2

CEO Salary 1

CEO Salary 3



Before ending this post, I added those to pictures of Star Trek. They have inspired the title: To boldly go beyond pie chart.

Those images are powerful. They capture the personality of Kirk and Spock. Enjoy them in full screen by clicking on them.

Star Trek WallpaperSpock Poster 

Share with me: What creative visuals did you use lately?


Posted by Denis François Gravel

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