How good or bad are financial presentations? I wanted to hear the audience's perspective. So I conducted a survey in May and June of 2014 asking those who see financial presentations what they thought. This deck presents the results of the survey and what financial presenters can do to make their presentations more effective.
Text of The State of Financial Presentations 2014 Survey Results
Results from The State of Financial Presentations Survey 2014 By Dave Paradi of
How good or bad are financial presentations? As a presentation expert I had my own ideas, but I wanted audience members to tell me what they thought. Dave Paradi Author of seven books, four Kindle ebooks. One of thirteen people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the PowerPoint Most Valuable Professional Award.
120 people completed the online survey
Who were the respondents? Mostly professionals or managers/executives From corporate or government organizations
What annoys audience members about financial presentations? I gave them ten choices and asked them to choose their top three. Even though I asked them to choose only three, people couldnt contain themselves. The average number of selections was 3.6.
Here are the top four responses on what annoys people about financial presentations 66.7% 50.8% 45.0% 43.3% Too many numbers on the slide Font too small Too much information for the time given for the presentation Mostly tables of numbers and few visuals such as graphs % of respondents who chose that item
The results didnt surprise me ABC Business Unit Sales Projections all figures in thousands Q1 2013 Q2 2013 Q3 2013 Q4 2013 2013 Total Q1 2014 Q2 2014 Q3 2014 Q4 2014 2014 Total $ diff % diff Product A 151 582 313 304 1350 376 387 427 533 1723 373 27.6% Product B 151 221 252 213 837 278 148 421 363 1210 373 44.6% Product C 460 388 279 229 1356 177 399 502 498 1576 220 16.2% Product D 132 214 423 481 1250 450 582 199 179 1410 160 12.8% Product E 260 183 567 126 1136 470 493 360 190 1513 377 33.2% Total 1154 1588 1834 1353 5929 1751 2009 1909 1763 7432 1503 25.3% I see spreadsheets on slides all the time
Next I gave people a free-form area to add any additional comments on what annoys them about financial presentations. They were eager to share. Three themes emerged.
Its not about the numbers, its about what the numbers mean I # People dont love numbers as much as financial presenters think they do.
Dont use terms or acronyms the audience doesnt understand EBITDA under IFRS is $12.5 million Im sorry. I dont understand the foreign language you are speaking.
Dont read the text and numbers on the slide Reading your slides Explaining why the numbers are important
I asked respondents to share three words or phrases they hear most often when people talk about financial presentations. I took all the responses and created a word cloud.
I wasnt surprised that these two words were the most popular. When people are overwhelmed by numbers, they tune out.
We also see people frustrated that their time was wasted because they couldnt figure out the point of the presentation.
So I asked the respondents what advice they would have for financial presenters that would make the presentations more effective. Three main areas stood out.
The numbers are not the story. Numbers are used to support your message. Numbers Story Correct sequence: Determine the message Select numbers to support the message
Present the summary or conclusion, not the details Actual slide from a presentation The real message of all those numbers
Use more visuals Use graphs, diagrams, timelines, and more
Financial presentations need a clear message, focused content, and effective visuals. Here are some resources to get you started.
Use a GPS approach to plan your message Click on the map image to read an article that explains how a GPS approach results in a clearer message
Focus on the insights from the analysis, not the details of what was done Click on the video image to watch how I explain moving from data to information to insight in my workshops
Use visuals instead of tables of numbers Click on the SlideShare deck image to see ideas on which visuals to use Click here to download my free e-book on presenting Excel data effectively to executives
Financial presentations dont have to be confusing and boring. They can clearly communicate important messages the audience understands and acts upon. You can read the full report of the survey results on my website by clicking here
To learn more about my workshops or to book me to speak to your association or conference, check out my website at: Dave Paradi Author of seven books, four Kindle ebooks. One of thirteen people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the PowerPoint Most Valuable Professional Award. www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com