Hone up your oratorical skills I do not know how many of you have had the privilege of addressing a gathering. By a gathering, I do not refer to the massive crowds that politicians address but any gathering irrespective of the size. After all a gathering is a gathering and if you are able to have the attention of a small crowd of say twenty riveted on you, no gathering is going to be too large for you. I have had the privilege of standing behind a mike though I can’t say I had the crowds eating out of my hand all the time. On more than one occasion, I have emerged out of these meetings with my foot in the mouth. As a small time speaker of sorts, one thing I have learnt is the effective use of statistics. Even the most restive crowds can be quietened by throwing statistics at them. It’s like sprinkling a drop of water on boiling milk that threatens to flow out of the pot. Statistics has a two-fold effect on the audience. First, it gives an impression that you are awfully well informed and such a display of knowledge always keeps the audience spell bound. Secondly, a profuse use of statistics produces a tremendous complex in the listener and a consequent feeling of awe keeps him tongue-tied. The other day I had the singular privilege of listening to a bureaucrat who could use statistics as effectively as Arjuna using Pasupathastra. The silence of the large audience was deafening to say the least. She reeled out statistics in support of what she was trying to convey at an incredible rate and interestingly these statistics were about things no one would have even applied his mind to. The lethal combination of a large volume of statistics and a subject, which no one could have even dreamt of, was enough to ensure rapt attention. Suffice it to say she got it. My tip, therefore, to aspiring speakers is to get loaded with statistics. I know what you are thinking. Is it that you have a poor memory for figures? Do you think all these numbers are far beyond your capability? Don’t despair! Who is talking about the authenticity of the statistics you are reeling out? Have you ever noticed any member of the audience making a note of the statistics that you reel out to verify later? It’s most unlikely and even if he does, it is even more unlikely that he would cross verify it on the spot and confront you! But if you are weak kneed and do not want to risk it, my suggestion is to resort to such statistics which are the my-word-against-your-word type. Do u want a few samples? Here are some: 46.5% of men say they ALWAYS put the seat up after they've used the toilet, yet women claim to ALWAYS find it down. 37% claim to know how to use all the features on their VCR. 85% of men don't use the slit in their underwear. Men do 29% of laundry each week. Only 7% of women trust their husbands to do it correctly. Now march forth and give it to them! In case you need more of such statistics, read magazines like 'Kalkandu'!