Effective communication skills are important for success in any FP&A role. You’ll need to be able to take complex financial data and make it digestible for your clients and peers.
Creating a kick-ass presentation is more than just tables and charts—you’ll also need to keep your audience engaged and make sure that key insights are shared effectively.
If you’re not used to public speaking, giving presentations as a finance professional might feel daunting. Luckily, effective communication is a skill that anyone can learn. With a little practice, you’ll soon be giving presentations that blow your colleagues away.
For this episode of Collectiv Conversations, I sat down with Soufyan Hamid, owner of SouFBP, about how to improve your presentation and communication skills. Soufyan is an experienced FP&A professional who is no stranger to creating captivating presentations. Here are some of the most important insights from our conversation.
Why You Need to Hone Your Communication Skills
As part of an FP&A team, you’ll regularly need to share data with clients, management, and other key stakeholders in your business. This means that you’ll need to be able to effectively communicate financial data and concepts to people with a wide variety of knowledge and skill sets.
Strong communication skills are important not only for presentations but also for day-to-day meetings and interactions.
FP&A Communication Challenges
Whether you’re new to public speaking or have been giving presentations for years, it’s normal to encounter some hurdles.
Managing Your Nerves
One of the most common challenges for anyone giving a presentation is managing your nerves. It’s normal to feel nervous when giving a presentation, especially when talking to a new group of people.
While your fear of public speaking might never fully go away, it’s something you can manage over time with practice. When you feel confident about the information you’re presenting, it becomes easier to work through your nerves.
Dealing with Expert Syndrome
Another common challenge for FP&A professionals is “expert syndrome.”
Financial data can be complex, and it’s normal to want to prove to others that you’re an expert in your field. When this happens, we tend to go into extreme detail and rely heavily on jargon while presenting, which can leave our audience feeling confused or overwhelmed.
If you’re prone to “expert syndrome”, take time to put yourself in the audience’s shoes and find clearer, more concise language to get your point across.
Tips For Your Next FP&A Presentation
Have a presentation coming up? These tips will help you fine-tune it to get your point across more effectively and impress both your clients and colleagues.
1. Remove jargon and industry-speak.
One of the easiest ways to make your financial presentation accessible to a wider audience is to remove jargon and industry-speak whenever possible.
Jargon often feels alienating and overwhelming to your audience. Take the time to come up with alternative words or phrases that you can use instead.
2. Keep your presentation short and sweet.
It’s also important to edit your presentation to make sure you’re getting the most important concepts across. Break your financial report into short, digestible chunks, and focus on the insights that are going to have the biggest impact on your audience. This keeps your team engaged so you can make a big impact in a short amount of time.
3. Balance your speech with slides.
Slides are another important consideration when building your presentation. It’s important to find a sweet spot. Too many slides will overwhelm your audience and distract them from what you are saying, but a presentation without enough slides can be hard to follow.
Soufyan recommends 10 slides for a 20-minute presentation, but don’t be afraid to pare your deck down even further to keep things concise. Avoid making your slides too text-heavy and balance each slide out with graphics or images. This ensures that your audience doesn’t get distracted reading each slide and keeps the focus on you.
4. Practice your presentation ahead of time.
Finally, take time to practice ahead of time, especially if you’re feeling nervous. If you feel comfortable, practice with a trusted friend or family member and ask for feedback to fine-tune the presentation.
Another approach is to take a video of yourself giving the presentation. Watching the video will help you adjust your cadence, posture, and expression.
Great communication skills will give you a leg up in your FP&A career. Being able to share key financial insights clearly with team members and clients will make you an invaluable asset to your organization.
We’re excited to bring you insights from industry leaders in each Collectiv Conversations episode. Keep an eye out for new episodes each month. Be sure to subscribe to Collectiv’s YouTube channel so you never miss an episode.
Chris Ortega is a Fractional CFO, strategic advisor, and finance influencer with over 17 years of experience in public accounting, corporate accounting, finance, FP&A, and leadership. As the CEO of Fresh FP&A, he helps businesses transform and scale their finance organization.