Let’s face it. Financial data has a reputation for being boring and a financial presentation can fill even the most devoted professionals with dread.
To change this perception, you need to create a presentation you’re excited to give. Hold the interest of your audience instead of making them feel like they are being held captive. Use these tips to make a financial presentation interesting and make sure people listen to what you have to say.
1. Communicate the story behind the data
People respond to stories better than data and figures. When you plan your presentation, plan to tell the who, what, when, where and why behind the numbers.
Data will appeal to people’s analytical brains, but to maintain their interest you also have to use examples to explain who the numbers affect, where the figures come from and why they are important.
2. Follow the 10-20-30 rule
Overuse has made those handy PowerPoint slides an instrument of evil in meeting rooms around the world and can kill a presentation.
Guy Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 rule is simple. A presentation should include ten slides, last twenty minutes and use thirty point font. It keeps the presentation concise and forces you to get to the point setting up ideal conditions for your audience to tune in to what you are saying.
3. Hide your notes and bullet points
There’s nothing wrong with a handout or takeaway, but if you put your whole presentation on the handout or on the screen behind you, your audience will read ahead and then tune you out.
Make sure your handouts and slides don’t detract from what you are saying. Remember that you and what you have to say are the main event.
4. Make it picture perfect
To create slides that support what you have to say and add to your presentation, focus on the graphics. A well-designed, simple presentation will catch your listeners’ eyes and attention.
5. Channel the pros
Once you’ve planned what to say and what materials you will use, you have to know how you are going to say it. This means learning to communicate with your audience by taking some tips from the masters.
Warren Buffet, financial investment guru, talks about finances all the time, and if you watch his talks online, he’s a charming, relatable speaker, not boring at all. When Steve Jobs spoke, he took technical information and made it interesting.
How you talk affects how people listen so work on your public speaking abilities even if you only present in the meeting room.
6. Arrange for discussion
People are more interested in conversation than a speech. To engage your audience in your presentation, allow time for discussion.
If you need the conversation to be controlled, arrange for a colleague to interrupt you with a question or to make a point. Or, open it up for Q&A or for your team to jump in with additional comments. Interaction reigns in the attention of the audience since they have to participate and prove they’ve been listening.
7. Open and close
Steve Jobs began keynotes with ‘I have four things I want to talk about today.’ Guy Kawasaki’s talks always consist of ten points. They are letting their audience know how long their talk is going to last so that the audience know how long they have to concentrate for.
Letting your audience know what to expect in terms of how much material you have to cover gives your audience something to watch out for and helps them to follow along, knowing there’s a fixed endpoint. On your final point, include a ‘and just one more thing’ to let them know you’re coming to a close.
Make a financial presentation interesting
Financial presentations don’t have to be boring and a meeting with finance no longer has to fill your colleagues with dread.
Giving meaning to your numbers, making your visual data interesting to look at and engaging with your audience will help ensure your finance meetings become the highlight of your colleagues calendars.
(Hat tip to Paul Hudson for the photo)