By Eamonn O’Brien, Founder and CEO of The Reluctant Speakers Club
Are you expected to make presentations to directors, senior executives or other internal groups about your company’s financial performance or health?
For many accountants, this is a part of the job that makes them uncomfortable; where they feel like a fish out of water, not sure of the best ways to connect with an audience that may not know the difference between a SSAP and a hole in the ground.
Does that sound like you?
If you answered yes, here are two tips you might consider adopting to improve your impact and confidence straight away:
1. Avoid Data Onslaughts
The modern accountant tends to be a ninja when it comes to Excel, Access and/or accounting packages – with an ability to crunch numbers and apply macros in ways that capture every scintilla of a company’s financial transactions and translate these into meaningful information.
But, no matter how skilled you may be in these arts, avoid the temptation to subject your audiences to data dumps – whether these are of the spreadsheet or detailed graph varieties.
Understand that less is more when you speak.
Audience members (even if they have some financial training) have a limited capacity to remember what is said during presentations. In fact, research shows that they won’t recall more than 10% of what you say a week later – and that’s only if you were somewhat interesting!
So you’re wasting your time and your audience’s time if you try to cram too much information into the time you have available to speak.
Don’t make it hard for them to figure out what your main points are by burying them deep within the bowels of your presentations.
Instead, simplify – simplify – simplify; focusing only on things that matter to your audience (what they need to understand and do as a consequence).
2. Go Visual
Building on this first point, you can hugely increase the impact of what you say by upping your visual content.
The old adage of a picture being worth more than a thousand words is true.
Use a combination of images and storytelling to help your audience get to the heart of what you want to say and why this should be of consequence to them.
Apart from the fact that images (especially those conjured in audience minds through stories) are easier to recall, they also tap into emotions – causing most people to feel more strongly about whatever topic is being addressed.
And tapping into your audience’s feelings is vital if you need them to do something after your presentation.
After all, if people don’t feel strongly about something – how likely is it that they will try to remember it or do anything about it?
Not very, right?
So there we have it, increase your impact as a presenter by:
- Avoiding the temptation of sharing too much information, and
- Piquing your audience’s imagination with visual imagery
Over to You. What do you think? Please share your observations.