Presentation Skills for CFOs

09/25/2023 06:56:21 +0000

I remember a time when I presented at a meeting and was told later that the CFO thought I was 'nice'. Ouch.

Perhaps at one point in my career I may have been happy with that feedback, but at that point in time 'nice' wasn't what I was going for. I did not have the impact on him that I'd wanted, nor did I leave with the 'right' reputation.

As a CFO, is your reputation what it needs to be?

I often hear the following from the CFOs:

'I'm no good at presentations'

'They [my stakeholders] look positive and say yes in the meeting, but then there's no follow-through'

'I say something...someone else says exactly the same thing and they get the accolades'

'I'm told I need executive presence'

What's actually going on, is we're not having the impact we want.

What most CFOs do when asked to present at a meeting

Here is the thought process that usually happens after we have been asked, 'can you present at next week's Board meeting?'...

'Where am I going to find the time to do that? My calendar is already full.'

'How am I going to get all the information? Who do I need it from?'

'Oh no. I'm still nervous about presenting in front of the Board!!'

Notice what's going on there...we start a spiral of concern and worry...about ourselves! We start in the practicalities of the how and often end up with negative self-talk. We don't give one thought about the intent of the presentation and the needs of the people who will be there.

We go and get all the information, pull the data together in a good-looking powerpoint presentation, and then we get up and smile broadly while quietly dying on the inside. We talk through the presentation and if we're really prepared, we do more than just read every word on each slide. We ask if anyone has any questions, and if anyone does ask, we try to answer the questions hurled at us.

Sound familiar?

Let's rewind and see how we might approach this differently. When we are asked, 'can you present at next week's XX meeting?', we could ask ourselves the following question:

How can I use this opportunity to amplify my executive presence and brand?

Why CFOs need to amplify their voice

With reference to the CFO journey below, getting your voice heard is the thing that enables you to elevate up the levels. We need to be heard saying the following when we are at each stage:

Firefighter: "Something has to change (in order for us to stop fighting fires)."
Deliverer: "I can do more than just deliver these reports to you."
Adviser: "It would be easier for you if we work alongside one another through the implementation of this project."
Partner: "I can show you a better future."

However, using our voice effectively gets harder as the number of people in the room increase and the level of change or influence that we're trying to make grows. This is why....

CFO leadership is about facilitatorship

Last week I shared with the CFO Boardroom 'The CFO AmplifierTM'. As part of the Amplifier, I shared with my CFOs the following:

Use the guidance on the axes to help you choose the communication style to meet your needs

We discussed how this framework gives CFOs the opportunity to select the delivery method that is most appropriate to the forum and outcome. Most importantly, that it's not always a 'presentation'. It's nuance, of course. No one really needs to know what 'it' is, but the experience and outcomes are vastly different.

If you want a number of people to know something - to receive information and have clarity of understanding, then presentation is perfect. It's great if it's really a one-way communication with little interaction. But if you want that same number of people (or more) to buy-in to an idea, to retain the information and to participate in co-creating a better future, then facilitation is the name of the game. Through facilitation it's a dialogue and you create opportunities for engagement and interaction.

Facilitation drives influence, decision making and change

Facilitation is the seed of change, development and growth. The etymology of the word facilitation is 'facile - to make easy', and so in a meeting environment, it's your job to make the learning and understanding easy so that the group can achieve their outcome.

During our mastermind day our community learned how to prepare and deliver each of these communication styles for success and in doing so the key elements to amplify our voice. Now when asked 'to do a presentation' they are empowered and equipped to choose and deliver the right communication style for the audience and the outcome. With The CFO AmplifierTM empowered and equipped to choose and deliver the right communication style for the audience and the outcome.

Celebrating a big day In the Boardroom!

Facilitation and reputation: obsess about the outcome

My husband asks me on a semi-regular basis, "how do I look?", to which I always reply, "it doesn't matter. No one's looking at you anyway." Harsh? Maybe....but it's true. No one's looking because they're so busy worrying about how they look themselves. Same goes with a 'presentation'. It might be all about you, but it's never about you.

As the heartbeat of the organisation, be the one that provokes the conversation that is needed to deliver the outcome. Deliver with your full potential. Have the impact you want and don't be scared to do so. Because it's not about you.

Don't receive feedback that you're 'nice'.
Choose the style of communication that serves the purpose.
Do deliver impactful presentation.

Author: Alena Bennett

Alena works with leaders and their teams to connect technical and leadership skills so they can deliver to deadline without killing their people.
She is a mentor, trainer, facilitator and coach. Contact her today on [email protected]
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 ⓒ 2023




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