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2016 State of Financial Presentations Survey Report

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What do audiences think of financial presentations? The results of this survey in March 2016 tell presenters of financial information what annoys the audience and gives suggestions on how financial presentations can be more effective.

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2016 State of Financial Presentations Survey Report

  1. 1. Results of the 2016 State of Financial Presentations Survey By Dave Paradi of
  2. 2. Financial presentations are required in almost every organization. They differ from many other presentations due to the focus on data. If we want financial presentations to be more effective, we need to know what audiences think about them. Dave Paradi Author of eight books, four Kindle ebooks. One of fifteen people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the PowerPoint Most Valuable Professional Award.
  3. 3. What annoys audience members about financial presentations?    I gave survey respondents ten choices and asked them to choose their top three. Here’s what they chose most often.
  4. 4. The top four responses on what annoys people about financial presentations % of respondents who chose that item 51.7% 43.1% 39.7% 39.7% Too many numbers Too much detail for the audience to understand Font too small Mostly tables of numbers instead of visuals such as graphs
  5. 5. The results didn’t 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% Information overload is the top issue in presentations according to the general survey on presentations I do. With financial presentations, the overload comes from numbers, often presented as spreadsheets on slides.
  6. 6. I didn’t want to assume that I had covered all the possible issues in the list I presented, so I gave respondents a free form space to add any other issues that annoy them about financial presentations. Two issues stood out.
  7. 7. Presenters focus on the numbers. The audience wants to know what the numbers mean. I  # Here’s what one respondent said: “Too often the material is the supporting detail and the conclusion is left to audience.”
  8. 8. Presenters assume everyone understands the language used in the financial world. Reality: Most non-financial people think you are speaking a foreign language. EBITDA under GAAP is $12.5 million I’m sorry. I don’t understand the foreign language you are speaking.
  9. 9. I asked respondents to share three words or phrases they hear most often when people in their organizations talk about financial presentations. I took all the responses and created a word cloud visual, where the size of the word is related to the frequency of the word in the list.
  10. 10. Presentations aren’t designed to be boring. It starts with slides that are overwhelming. Overwhelming amount of text or data on slides.
  11. 11. The audience gets confused. Overwhelming amount of text or data on slides. Audience is confused
  12. 12. They mentally “check out” and start thinking about other things. Overwhelming amount of text or data on slides. Audience is confused I better remember to pick up milk Audience mentally “checks out”
  13. 13. At the end, they say they are bored because it has been so long since they got something of value from the presentation. Overwhelming amount of text or data on slides. Audience is confused I better remember to pick up milk Audience mentally “checks out” That presentation was boring After the presentation, the audience says it was boring
  14. 14. The survey then switched to what could be done to improve financial presentations. I asked what good financial presenters did that made those presentations so effective. One person said, “I haven’t seen a great one yet...but I have hope that someday…” Great financial presentations do exist, and people told me what they had seen that was effective.
  15. 15. I also asked the respondents what advice they would have for presenters of financial information that would make the presentations more effective. The answers to these two questions blended nicely into three themes.
  16. 16. Theme #1: Be Message Driven “Start with the message, not the data” - Sage advice from one respondent Audiences don’t want to see every number you used. They want to know the conclusion of your analysis and what actions they need to take. Be message driven, not data driven.
  17. 17. Theme #2: Be Relevant to this audience Every audience is different. They want to know the story behind the numbers from their area. TLA’s (Three Letter Acronyms) Use business language they understand, not financial lingo and acronyms.
  18. 18. Theme #3: Use clear visuals Use graphs instead of spreadsheets Use callouts with explanations to drive home the key message
  19. 19. If you want to improve your financial presentations, here are three steps you can take.
  20. 20. Step #1: Think message first instead of numbers first Click on the map image to read an article and watch a video that explain how a GPS approach results in a clearer message This is part of the RAPIDS approach to planning a presentation in my book “Present It So They Get It”
  21. 21. Step #2: Only use the numbers that support your message Don’t copy your entire analysis on a slide. Select the numbers that matter to this audience. In my customized workshops, I share five strategies for getting your information laser focused to reduce information overload.
  22. 22. Step #3: Use clear visuals instead of spreadsheets Create clear graphs that the audience understands immediately. My book “Select Effective Visuals” gives a step- by-step process for selecting the right visual for the messages in business presentations. Before After
  23. 23. Improving financial presentations has a bottom-line impact: • Better decisions • Quicker approvals • Take advantage of new opportunities You can read the full report of the survey results on my website by clicking here
  24. 24. To learn more about my customized workshops, check out my website at: Dave Paradi Author of eight books, four Kindle ebooks. One of fifteen people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the PowerPoint Most Valuable Professional Award. www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com

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