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Are You Good at Describing Financial Information to Non-Financial Stakeholders?

You’re a financial professional who loves getting into all things numbers. But you’re about to present financial information to a room of stakeholders, some of whom may not be financial people themselves. Presenting financial information to stakeholders, managers, or anyone else who needs to know it but may not be as financially literate as you is, well, challenging.

Here are three tips for describing financial information to non-financial stakeholders:

Keep it brief.

The first rule of thumb: keep things brief when discussing financial information with non-financial people. Chances are they’re not interested in the nitty-gritty details of the numbers, and they probably don’t need to know about every decimal point and accounting term that’s included. And people like stakeholders are busy—they likely don’t have time to dive deep into the financial sludge, even if you love to. Make simple data points and express them clearly, and you’ll be good to go.

Adapt your information to suit your audience.

Think about who you’ll be talking to when presenting this information. It may be stakeholders, it may be management, or it could be your peers. Keep in mind that some of these individuals are financially literate, so you may be able to discuss the numbers the way you normally would. But frequently, the people you’re talking to aren’t as well-versed in your field as you are, so make sure you adapt. Remove the fluff from your language; get rid of industry-specific accounting terms and vague abbreviations or initialisms; use visuals if you can.

Make it a story.

Facts and figures get boring after a while, even to the most seasoned accounting and finance professionals. You’ll lose your audience after 10 minutes if you keep droning on about numbers. That’s why it’s a good idea to present your information as a story—think about where things started, how they progressed, and where they’ve ended up. Break things down into chunks so that it’s easier to understand, and make sure the information has a logical flow.

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