• Making Numbers Count

  • The Art and Science of Communicating Numbers
  • By: Chip Heath, Karla Starr
  • Narrated by: Kathe Mazur
  • Length: 4 hrs and 35 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (145 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A clear, practical, first-of-its-kind guide to communicating and understanding numbers and data - from best-selling business author Chip Heath.

How much bigger is a billion than a million?

Well, a million seconds is 12 days. A billion seconds is...32 years.

Understanding numbers is essential - but humans aren’t built to understand them. Until very recently, most languages had no words for numbers greater than five - anything from six to infinity was known as “lots”. While the numbers in our world have gotten increasingly complex, our brains are stuck in the past. How can we translate millions and billions and milliseconds and nanometers into things we can comprehend and use?

Author Chip Heath has excelled at teaching others about making ideas stick, and here, in Making Numbers Count, he outlines specific principles that reveal how to translate a number into our brain’s language. This book is filled with examples of extreme number makeovers, vivid before-and-after examples that take a dry number and present it in a way that people click in and say, “Wow, now I get it!”

You will learn principles such as:

  • Simple perspective cues: Researchers at Microsoft found that adding one simple comparison sentence doubled how accurately users estimated statistics like population and area of countries.
  • Vividness: Get perspective on the size of a nucleus by imagining a bee in a cathedral, or a pea in a racetrack, which are easier to envision than “1/100,000th of the size of an atom.”
  • Convert to a process: Capitalize on our intuitive sense of time (five gigabytes of music storage turns into “two months of commutes, without repeating a song”).
  • Emotional measuring sticks: Frame the number in a way that people already care about (“that medical protocol would save twice as many women as curing breast cancer”).

Whether you’re interested in global problems like climate change, running a tech firm or a farm, or just explaining how many Cokes you’d have to drink if you burned calories like a hummingbird, this book will help math-lovers and math-haters alike translate the numbers that animate our world - allowing us to bring more data, more naturally, into decisions in our schools, our workplaces, and our society.

©2022 Chip Heath. All rights reserved. (P)2022 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What listeners say about Making Numbers Count

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Not his best work, choose another title

Not enough research for a book. There are occasional partial nuggets, however the political points of view thinly veiled are not what I prefer in a book that should be educational. I prefer to keep the author’s narrative on the subject matter not on his personal social policy. I am returning it, which is the first time in over 2 years and 20+ titles.

4 people found this helpful

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Making political comments apparently counts.

Audible must include political bias in all of the listening versions on this platform. Please. Eventually I will quit this venue, unless I am given a warning about possible, statistical, examples that show the cards being dealt.

1 person found this helpful

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Making Numbers Count Makes It Real

Great practical insights in communicating complex even simple numbers with impact. If 87% of statistics are made up, 9 of 10 facts are fiction.

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Thought provoking

Really enjoyed this read. Will change the way i convey information

Now pls make a kids version!

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I feel smarter already!

If you’ve ever wanted to understand how to communicate data effectively, this is for you. I learned lots (pun intended)! Get this book to improve your communications skills no matter your field.

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By the Numbers

What a great way to keep numbers relevant! I look forward to using these tools to help people understand and relate to the numbers that matter most.

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A grant writer helper

Real tangible way to present data and financial requests for non math nerds. Improved my grant award almost immediately. Show how to get ready d of excess distractions to understandable easy to grasp concepts. I own hardback and audiobook

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Super-useful takeaways

The examples alone are worth the read/listen. But the learning in how to get from difficult to relate facts to useful stories will certainly make my job/life easier.

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Compelling, but could have shown more evidence

Super useful but at least in the audiobook it's unclear how much scientific evidence there is.

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Great material but book in hand - better option

I love the Heaths (and Starr's) stuff and was really excited about getting this book. Downloaded it immediately and started it. I stayed engaged til about half way, then it became overwhelming to listen to without seeing.

Funny, some of the principles from the book apply just as directly to reading it over listening to it (at least for me). Others may have found the audible incredible. I'm just one voice but I would have preferred having it in hand.