Reformat the Presentation for Greater Impact

Home » Presentations and Communication » Reformat the Presentation for Greater Impact

My two decades long career helping executives design and delivery winning presentations, has focused disproportionately on financial presentations for VCs, Private Equity firms, hedge funds, public and private companies, etc. who are raising money or and. delivering investor and board presentations. In most cases, the biggest problems are:

  • Deciding what information can be dropped for the face-to-face presentation, since much many details clutter the communication and distract the audience from the key information (hence our “WINning†expression: What’s Important Now), and
  • Deciding how to present what is critical in a way that is easy to understand so it can make the powerful impact that’s the presenter’s goal. (Just because you’re a banker with Powerpoint doesn’t qualify you to design powerful presentations, as clients who come to me with their 30th presentation conclude!)

I also see the second problem as one new accounting students (some of whom attend my classes on strategy management) need to consider. Their tables have all the numbers, but they get lost understanding what the ultimate decision make needs to know to make a key decision. That’s why I found Baruch Lev and Feng Gu’s book – The End of Accounting interesting. One point they make is that the accounting industry has added lots of requirements for companies’ annual reports – but they may not be helping investor decisions. “The 1902 US Steel report is a slim 40 page document whereas its 2012 counterpart is, in the best of accounting tradition of mounting complexity and obfuscation, a hefty 174-page tome.†The authors note that the extras offer nothing of substance that helps explain how US steel went from one of the dominant companies of the 20th Century to a shell of its former self. Similarly, they note  that in the2013 General Electric 2013 report are footnotes on “Sales of Goods and Services†which include gthe , that the recurrent use of  the word “estimateâ€Â  without explaining the extent to which the revenue numbers (such as $146 B) are based on actual facts vs estimates. Clearly, a difference of just a few Billion could change earnings expectations!

In the spirit of rethinking how presentations can be more “Audience-Driven†(the AD in our key formula ADAP, they actually offer a new reporting system – The Strategic Resources and Consequences report. The focus would be on strategic resources that give the company a competitive advantage, and an assessment of the threats to those resources.

They list five sections that would make up the report. Included would be:

  • List of strategic resources, including patents and other IP, and its value
  • Specification of investments needed to develop these assets
  • Identify largest risks to company
  • Describe strategy to be used to make the most money for the company
  • Quantify the results in creating value.

While an assessment of their proposal from an accounting standards perspective is beyond my skill set, I welcome insights from experts. Also, for the rest of us, share with me your thoughts about the implications for financial presentations!