Brian's Blog

The Value of Good Financial Communication

Corporate value is usually equated with shareholder value, and only really measured in economic terms like return on investment.
 

So, it can be argued that communication contributes to the value of a corporate by positioning the company in the marketplace or creating a favourable corporate image among investors.

I’m lucky to have the communication expertise of the team at Rum Judy Ltd help me with this.

Strategically managing and measuring positioning by communicative means is the primary task of communications experts.

In this sense, communication is an integrative part of the value chain in any corporation. 

Communication processes are part of primary activities (inbound logistics, operations, outbound logistics, marketing and sales, and service) as well as of supporting activities (firm infrastructure, human resource management, technology, and procurement). 

Thus, communication is not just an organisational function which helps top executives and other business managers to reach out to stakeholders. Corporate communications is also a valuable resource for listening and learning from the environment, which helps to reposition the organisation and adjust strategies, and a key driver of creating a supportive overall framework for corporate activities.

So, good, effective communication plays a significant part in how we communicate the financial success or potential in a company.

But, let’s face it; when it comes to financial communication, it can be a bit dull.

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. 

You might not get it right the first time, but as long as you're always trying to improve, you'll get there - and your audience will thank you for it.

You need to hold the interest of your audience instead of making them feel like they are being held captive.

Stories work better than data – because people like stories.

When you plan your presentation, plan to tell the who, what, when, where and why behind the numbers. 

Data is the point of your presentation, but examples of who the numbers affect will keep their interest.

So explain who the numbers affect, where the figures come from and why they are important.

Rather than simply saying 'These are the projections for next year.' go further and and talk about where that projection has come from, what has and can still influence it and why it's important for your audience to know.

Death by PowerPoint

PowerPoint used to be great, but not anymore.  Really.  

Bad presentations have branded them an instrument of evil in meeting rooms around the world. But there is hope.

Guy Kawasaki* has the best line on this;

...a presentation should include: ten slides, last twenty minutes and use thirty-point font.

By following this process, you keep the presentation concise and it forces you to get to the point. This sets up ideal conditions for your audience to tune in to what you're saying.

*Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. He is a brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz and an executive fellow of the Haas School of Business (UC Berkeley). He was the chief evangelist of Apple and a trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation. He is also the author of The Art of the Start 2.0The Art of Social MediaEnchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.

 

Your handouts and slides shouldn’t detract from what you're saying. You and what you say are the main event. Keep your slides simple and then expand and explore with your own commentary.

Too much text will kill any presentation. People just don't respond to blocks of uninterrupted information. To make a financial presentation interesting, ensure you have at least a few interesting and relevant graphics. 

If design isn’t your thing, then finance apps are great.  

Roambi is a business application that turns data into attractive visuals. Designed for mobile devices on the iOS platform – such as Apple Inc.’s iPhone, iPad and iPad Mini – Roambi changes raw business data into interactive graphics that will back up what you have to say.

And, if it's appropriate, throw in a funny picture or gif to illustrate a point. We're all human and making us crack a smile during a data-heavy presentation can be refreshing.

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.

 

By doing this, 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 them 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.