Maximising presentation skills as a finance business partner

18 Sep 20

For a finance business partner, the ability to present information, data and insight with both precision and clarity is absolutely crucial in communicating your findings effectively.

Key takeaways

  • An effective method of presentation is vital in ensuring that your delivery output is well regarded by your audience and showcases important information
  • You must consider different factors when designing and delivering a presentation, such as the seniority of your audience and level of detail needed
  • For example, a support team may need data at a transactional level, whereas a director may require high-level output only
  • Presentation material and methods of communication must evolve to meet the growing needs of the business


Why are presentation skills so important?

The method of presentation that a finance business partner uses can be the difference between the delivery output being pivotal in informing effective decision making and the output being completely disregarded or causing the business to make poor financial decisions. If not tailored to your target audience’s specific needs, important information may not be communicated effectively, or lost altogether, making the core message of your presentation unclear.


What are the different factors to take into account?

In understanding how best to present data, information and insight – or indeed, deciding whether data, information or insight would be the most appropriate – there are number of factors that the finance business partner may consider:

  • Who is the presentation/output aimed at?
  • Are there any restrictions on this person or group’s time?
  • Are they more likely to require significant detail? Or do they require a summary which adds value and understanding to the decision-making process?
  • Can the output be automated to make this quicker to provide each month?

In terms of available time, a support team may have longer to go through individual issues and concerns and may ask for the finance business partner to upskill when this is required. An accountable officer may only have an hour or two available per month for a finance discussion. The finance business partner therefore needs to maximise the impact that their presentation has in the minimum amount of time.


How should presentation material be tailored to each audience?

In general, the more senior the individual or customer group, the more high-level the output must be. A director’s support team, for example, may be concerned with making sure that the dataset of the information is accurate. With this in mind, they may require information from a more transactional perspective, where more data is required to troubleshoot any issues.

When reporting to the accountable officer, also known as the budget holder, individual transactions are rarely going to be required or necessary unless these have a significant impact either in terms of value, or proportionality of the overall budget. What this person may want is a report containing key metrics, tailored and summarised to their specific concerns or areas of responsibility or interest.


When, and how, should presentation data be reviewed?

It is vital that presentation material evolves to the growing needs of the business as well as to the responsibilities of the accounting officer. Out-of-date information stops being insightful and increases the chances of bad business decisions being made based on the evidence provided.

A clear timeframe should be established from the outset, giving the finance business partner a defined list of milestones or key landmarks where key data or business needs are likely to change throughout the financial year. This can also be achieved by obtaining feedback each month to identify new requirements, and review if previous requirements are no longer applicable.

When applied correctly, presentation skills provide the opportunity to showcase the successful use of financial information and insight, or highlight where the business has areas of concern. It is therefore crucial that this is utilised to match the needs of its audience.


Questions for you

  • Have you considered the needs of your target audience when outlining the main points of your presentation?
  • Has the information you are presenting been reviewed recently, and does it have a scheduled review date?
  • Do you know how long your presentation will take? Is the information being presented as efficiently and effectively as possible?


Sources of further information

CIPFA Diploma in Finance Business Partnering

Public Finance – How to Deliver a Perfect Presentation

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