It’s easy to think of a finance presentation as a necessary evil. Every once in a while, your team has to step away from your actual work and brief the executive suite on the state of the company’s financials. Everyone knows that it’s going to be dull, but it has to be done.
This type of thinking is understandable — most finance professionals have seen their share of glazed-over eyes and stifled yawns during the quarterly report. But it’s high time to start thinking of these presentations as an opportunity instead of a obligation.
Prophix is working to help finance teams upgrade their presentations, most recently by integrating real-time data into PowerPoint. But a stellar presentation isn’t all about technology, or even all about the data.
We asked experts in finance and public speaking for their advice on making more compelling presentations. The result: the Pro Talks Video Series, a virtual classroom for powering up your next quarterly meeting. You can watch the first four videos right now, for free. And there’s more coming soon.
Not convinced? Here are four reasons to power up your presentations, featuring insight from our Pro Talks experts.
Four Reasons to Power Up Your Finance Presentations
Great finance presentations enlighten, engage, and empower executives to take positive action. The right type of presentation can showcase your department’s expertise and knowledge, paving the way for finance to take a more advisory role in the organization.
#1: To Demonstrate Career-Enhancing Skills
“The number one thing that distinguishes financial executives from other financial professionals is communication skills.”
|Blair Cook, CFO at Horizon Maritime & Mara Renewables Corporation, Founder & Partner Executive Finance Partners Inc|
“Soft skills” — like being able to communicate clearly and show empathy for an audience — are increasingly becoming a differentiator. A compelling finance presentation can demonstrate your mastery of soft skills in front of the people who could make a major difference in your career.Finance professionals need plenty of education and practical experience to do the job. These “hard skills” are crucial, but they’re not much of a differentiator when there’s a promotion on the line. Odds are most of the finance team has the same level of schooling and time on the job.
#2: To Persuade the Audience to Take Action
“The numbers do tell a story, and the more you can bring them to life and use them to tell the story of the business, the better that data will be understood.”
|Jennifer Warawa, Executive VP of Partners, Accountants & Alliances at Sage, Keynote Speaker|
A powered-up presentation goes beyond reciting the numbers. It uses data to tell a story in a language that makes sense to your target audience. A presentation based on the principles of storytelling is energetic, immediate, even emotional. And it’s far more likely to persuade your audience to take action.The two goals of a finance presentation are to inform and to persuade. It’s saying, “This is where we are, this is where we’ve been, and here’s what we should do next.” The goal is to encourage your audience to take a specific course of action, or avoid a specific risk.What’s the point of a finance presentation? The easy answer is “to inform.” But if simply transferring data was the goal, you could just email a spreadsheet and call it a day.
#3: To Make Your Presentations Interactive & Engaging
“Executives don’t want to sit there in silence and not engage. Get your audience engaged in the conversation, make them feel part of it, and make sure the information is useful to them.”
|Jack McCullough, President of the CFO Leadership Council, Founder & Chair of the MIT Sloan CFO Summit|
In a traditional finance presentation, there can be a push and pull between what you want to present and what the audience wants to know about. You have to try to anticipate questions in advance, building out slides that you might not even use. If you’re off on your guesses, you have to dig back into the data while the audience waits… or worse, have to schedule a follow-up meeting.
A presentation with real-time data, on the other hand, can be far more interactive. There’s no need to wait for questions until the end, then make sure they’re limited to what’s on the slides. There’s no putting a pin in something for the next meeting. You can turn the meeting into a genuine conversation, with your audience an equal participant. By the end, your audience will have the information they need, will feel their time was valued, and will be more inclined to the action you’re proposing.
#4: To Take Control of the Data
“When you present, you get to control the narrative. You take people on the journey you want them to go on.”
|Jonathan Roomer, Co-Founder & CFO at yulife, Keynote Speaker|
As I said earlier, a great finance presentation is about more than just informing the audience. It’s about using data to make the case for a suggested course of action. It’s telling a story that captures your audience’s attention and leads them to a conclusion.
Let’s be clear: Your audience will reach a conclusion whether or not you take control of that journey. Even if your presentation is a dry and neutral recitation of numbers, the executive audience will still have to process the numbers and agree on a course of action. The presentation is your opportunity to put your department’s expertise to good use, to be an advisor instead of just a reporter.
Power Up Your Presentations
These are just four of many reasons to make your finance presentations more interactive, dynamic and compelling. Not only will you cut down on the number of distracted phone-pokers and yawners in the audience, you will make a better case for your department’s vision for the future of the organization. That type of presentation can help advance the business, your department–and your own career.
Get expert advice on powering up your presentations: Watch the Pro Talks Video Series.