Financial Presentations that Won’t put Your Audience to Sleep


If you develop and deliver financial presentations of any kind, you know how challenging the process can be. You have to include a lot of numbers; but you also know that all those numbers put your audience to sleep. When people leave your meeting, you can tell they feel tired and bored. Chances are you do too.


It doesn’t have to be this way. The truth is that financial presentations can be exciting and eye-opening if you prepare your content correctly. The reason that so many financial meetings put people to sleep is that the presenter conducts a “data dump” and expects the audience to draw their own conclusion. If your audience has to work to understand the information, they’ll simply tune out. That means you need to do the thinking for them.


When you use the following tools for presenting financial information, you make it easy for people to leave your meeting saying, “Wow. That was interesting. Now I have the information I need to make decisions.” In fact, that’s why we have monthly and quarterly meetings—to give information to help people make better business decisions. Therefore, be sure you do the following for each key point, each set of numbers, or each aspect of numbers you’re presenting.


1. Tell people whether the numbers are good or bad.
At some point during your explanation, tell the audience whether the numbers are good or bad. You may think the implication of the numbers is obvious, but realize that your audience likely isn’t paying full attention to everything you’re saying. Therefore, if the numbers have gone up or down, state how much variance there is. Don’t simply show last month’s numbers and this month’s numbers and expect people to do the math or see the correlation. Make the assumption that people are not giving you their full attention. Know that your job is to show people the big picture.


2. So What?
Tell them what to do with this information. Don’t make the managers or executives figure out what’s next. Be specific about how these numbers can help them make good business decisions by stating exactly what to do next. This will stimulate dialogue and conversation, which won’t put them to sleep! It will keep them engaged. It all goes back to what’s in it for them.


3. State the goal.
Before you show any numbers, you must first validate the goal and/or purpose of sharing the numbers. What decision is going to be made as a result of these particular numbers? This goal should be only one or two sentences. State it in a positive manner, and show that you understand what the audience is striving for.


4. Use color, charts: Minimum font size 24
To make sure your audience understands exactly what you are telling them; consider showing the same numbers you just presented in the spreadsheet in a colorful graph or chart. Don’t just show the spreadsheet and move on. Show the spreadsheet, and then break it down into graph or chart form so people can visually grasp what the numbers mean. I also recommend you use a minimum font size of 24. This will help ensure your attendees can actually see the information you’re presenting.

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