When you hear the phrase “storytelling with data,” what springs to mind? Is it something like this:
“Once upon a time, there was a mid-quarter disruption in the supply chain that caused a shipping delay. Because of this, the handsome retail outlet sold fewer units than expected, and they all lived happily ever after.”
Okay, so you probably shouldn’t turn your monthly presentation into a fairy tale. But even without the handsome princes and sleeping beauties, storytelling is a powerful tool for finance presentations. It’s about turning the numbers into a narrative that explains what has happened in the past and predicts what will happen in the future.
“These presentations need to go beyond the numbers. They need to tell the story of the business.”
Executive VP of Partners, Accountants & Alliances at Sage
In her video from the Pro Talks Video Series, Jennifer Warawa explains how storytelling makes your presentations more accessible, and how you can turn data into a logical narrative journey for your audience. You can watch the full video below:
At the heart of it, storytelling is about anticipating and answering questions. Think about the last movie you watched or novel you read. You were likely asking “what happened? Why did that happen? What’s going to happen next?” on a subconscious level throughout the story.
Think of how these questions can apply to a finance presentation:
- What happened? What data from the past month/quarter/year is most significant?
- Why did it happen? What caused the numbers to go up/down/stay stagnant?
- What’s going to happen next? What course of action is recommended based on the data?
The last question is the most important to answer. Using the existing story to plot out the future of the business is what can put finance in an advisory role rather than just a reporting one. As Jennifer puts it, “The really valuable finance professional of the future can tell a story about where you go from here. They can talk about, ‘Now what?’”
Of course, you don’t have to limit your presentation to a single narrative. Build in flexibility to let your audience ask questions. Be prepared to explore the data and pull out new plot threads to unravel.
Prophix makes it easier to tell data stories by importing real-time data into PowerPoint. With real-time data, you can make meetings more interactive and dynamic. You don’t have to prepare for any potential question ahead of time, because you can explore data right within the presentation.
Ready to level up your presentations? We created a worksheet that can improve everything from your “once upon a time” to your “happily ever after.”
Download the Prophix Presentation Worksheet today.