“Rule No. 1: Never lose money.
Rule No. 2: Never forget Rule No. 1.”
– Warren Buffet
Tis the fiscal year-end season for many companies, which means final income statements, auditor visits, and the requisite financial presentations. If you’re the go-to presenter for company finance talks, read on to put your best finance foot forward with these five tips:
1. Begin with the End
Unlike with a publishable paper, your presentation shouldn’t begin by laying out all of the background, methodology, and data before drawing conclusions. Instead, begin with your bottom line finding or message from all of the data – then support it. This approach will engage your audience quickly and entice them to want more.
2. Get Credible
You’re primed to deliver critical company year-end financial data – to your colleagues, shareholders, or the media. How do you quickly build your credibility? Be prepared to have a business conversation around the data, versus just relaying the data. This instantly communicates you understand the relevant significance behind the data – a sure credibility builder
3. Be a PowerPoint Pro
Odds are your finance presentation will include a PowerPoint deck. Avoid simply enlarging company financial statements and creating gobs of slides– instead, pull data out of spreadsheets and make sure you clearly communicate the story behind the data. These general best practices can help you do just that:
- “Picture it” if possible – use images, graphs and diagrams versus straight text when appropriate.
- Consider the Rule of 5 – no more than 5 bullet points per slide and 5 words per bullet.
- Strive for 24 point font (or larger) – smaller font is difficult to read.
- Let “Action Titles” tell the story – treat the title of your slides like a newspaper headline.
- Apply the 1:2 ratio – no more than 1 slide for 2 minutes of talk time.
- Use the “B” button – in slideshow mode, press “B” to black out your screen; press any key to bring your slide back up. This helps the audience focus on you, versus your slides.
4. Don’t Channel Your Accounting Professor
AHT, CRSP, EBITD, ECI, GAAP, IRR, JIT – avoid bombarding your audience with acronyms. If a few acronyms do sneak into your presentation, be sure to have a simple explanation ready for their first use.
5. Deliver the Right Takeaways
Visual aids should illuminate the essentials, reference material should provide the details. Avoid presenting from reference materials. Handouts can be your finance presentation friends to relay the back-up data. In some cases, it’s ideal to circulate the reference document for review in advance of your presentation. Your audience then arrives primed and knowledgeable, ready to ask questions.
Putting the above tips into action will help you engage your audience while effectively communicating the key messages behind your data.