At some point in your career, you’ll have to give at least one complex and data-heavy presentation. It’s inevitable for entrepreneurs to venture into the financial side of business and deliver fiscal reports such as those involving business charts that reflect the company’s performance against goals and financial analyses.
But the thing is, financial data can be boring. They may appeal to analytical brains, but what about the rest? In order to hold your audience’s attention, you need to make your financial presentation interesting. Don’t just conduct a data dump. Explain where the figures come from and how they affect your audience. Provide examples as to how those numbers can be relevant in their lives.
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In other words, harness the power of financial storytelling. Present a narrative-driven angle that will give your presentation a new light. Show the numbers but let the story behind them shine through.
Mastering the Art of Financial Storytelling
Financial presentations don’t have to be dull. Here are some tips to successfully deliver an intellectually-stimulating yet engaging presentation.
1. Pattern your presentation after the GPS approach
Organize your facts and figures by planning your presentation. Create a structure so your message will be clear from start to finish. One method you can apply to achieve this is the GPS approach.
First of all, identify who your audience is. What’s the extent of their knowledge and the level of their expertise? Once you know this, you have the starting point. You can then proceed to identifying the goal of the presentation. What would you want the audience to think, feel, understand, or do when you step out of the limelight? What end point are you trying to achieve? This is the destination.
From there, it’s just a matter of choosing the best route. How do you go from Point A to Point B? Outline your main idea first, then follow it up with the supporting ideas. You can create a script to help you with internalizing the flow of the presentation.
2. Establish credibility from the outset
Since you’ll be presenting critical figures, it’s important to appear trustworthy. Cultivating credibility and cementing a good reputation will make it more likely for your audience to believe in what you’ll say. If necessary, use supporting materials to validate your claims.
3. Outline your goals to build anticipation
If you inform your audience about the goals of your presentation, they’ll be more prepared to process any chunk of data you give them. It helps them to follow along since they already know what to expect and what material you’ll cover. It allows them to focus on the goal and take part in your presentation.
4. Follow the three-part story structure
When communicating the story behind your data, it’s good to divide your narrative into three parts: the beginning, the middle, and the ending.
Start your presentation by describing things as they are. This is key to creating a bond with your audience. If you tell them something that they already know or can agree with, you ignite a small fire of recognition in them. Naturally, that will make them more interested in your talk.
After establishing the facts, you can show them how things could change. Establish a gap between what is and what could be. Make sure your claims hook and intrigue them enough.
Finally, when concluding your financial presentation, don’t forget to include a call to action. Introduce what presentation expert Nancy Duarte calls the “new bliss,” a state where your audience’s world can be a lot better if they adopt your ideas and follow your suggestions.
5. Employ visuals instead of spreadsheets
Don’t limit yourself to Excel. Embrace the perks of technology so you can create a financial presentation that drives home with your audience. Present numbers, graphs, and tables using PowerPoint.
However, if you really want to take your presentation to the next level, you can ask a presentation design specialist to do the job for you. Let an expert turn your numeric data into graphics and visual images that are equally credible-looking and interesting. Your audience will be able to better make sense of your presentation this way.
6. Use simple and effective design elements
To make your slides more visually appealing without going over the top, use a sans serif font instead of a fancy one. Also, choose a template that isn’t too loud. Observe a good balance of colors to avoid design clutter. If you can, use a color contrast calculator to make sure that the colors in your presentation match.
7. Reiterate your claims repeatedly
According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, you need to be exposed to a piece of information three to five times for you to absorb it and act on it. Also, you need to hear it from different sources for your brain to validate the information. Repeat your message throughout the presentation, but say it in different ways.
Keep Calm and Speak Like a Pro
With the proper tools and the right techniques, you can be more confident in delivering a good financial presentation. All you need is some storytelling and a few basic design skills. If you prepare well, you can get your message across without losing your audience in the process.
Duarte, Nancy. “Structure Your Presentation Like a Story.” Harvard Business Review. October 31, 2012. hbr.org/2012/10/structure-your-presentation-li
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Mogilner, Geoffrey. “Perfecting the Art of Financial Storytelling.” Edelman. February 2, 2015. www.edelman.com/post/perfecting-art-financial-storytelling
Piontek, Katelyn. “7 Ways to Make a Financial Presentation Interesting.” Turbine HQ. September 9, 2014. turbinehq.com/2014/make-a-financial-presentation-interesting
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“Don’t Start by Copying Previous Slides.” Think Outside the Slide. June 24, 2014. www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com/issue-314-june-24-2014
“Edelman Trust Barometer.” Edelman. 2009. www.edelman.com/assets/uploads/2014/01/2009-Trust-Barometer-Executive-Summary.pdf
“Five Tips to Make PowerPoint Business Presentations More Effective.” Think Outside the Slide. n.d. www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com/five-tips-to-make-powerpoint-business-presentations-more-effective