On many occasions, you have probably been in a situation when you were presenting a list of points to an audience. Whether this be a set of recommendations or an overview of challenges for consideration, we have all experienced that we create more attention if the list is not too long. Who really wants to listen to you presenting “25 recommendations for increasing participation in sport”!  – even if they are all very interesting and useful.

Making our lists of points shorter, by grouping or prioritising, is one way of getting attention. Another is to clearly state how many points you are going to make before presenting them. Instead of simply referring to “recommendations for increasing participation”, it is far more attractive to say “top 10 recommendations for increasing participation in sport” – before presenting them one by one.

But – you can make the presentation of your list of points even more interesting and exciting with a small, but impactful adjustment: instead of numbering the first recommendation “1”, the second “2”, on so on, do the opposite. Number the first recommendation “10”, ending with the number “1” recommendation.

Whether or not the recommendations are more interesting or important as you move down from “10” to “1” doesn’t really matter – most audiences would just get that feeling. The more important effect is that attention of the audience will increase as the list of points is being presented, not decrease – as is so often the case. If your audiences have heard your recommendations “no. 10” to “no 4” – they will certainly want to hear “no. 3, 2 and 1”. Nobody wants to miss the end of count-down!


BCW Sports practice is the sport unit of global advisory firm Burson-Marsteller. We provide strategy and communication advice for sport clients around the world. For more information: bmsport.staging.wpengine.com