Business presentations are hardly ever without numbers and figures. But, these can be mind boggling, even for the best of financial minds. Here are 6 tips to help you make the most out of numbers:
1) Help your audience understand the numbers. Start your presentation with a definition sheet of key terms and measurements. Don’t assume that your audience fully understands acronyms. Personally, I always struggled with Media buying metrics like GRP, Reach and Frequency. Also explicitly state your data source, which currency you use, variables like Exchange Rate, etc. Check in with the audience if they need further explanation. This will be very helpful.
2) Simplify numbers. To maximize the impact of numbers in your presentations, think of creative ways of explaining them. Steve Jobs did this so well. He would tell you how many songs you could store on your iPod rather than the GB data. In the same way, you can make numbers relatable.
Imagine if you had to report that brand penetration went up by 1.1%. That sounds small and technical right? A simpler and more memorable way to do it would be to say that your brand gained XYZ million new users.
3) Fit audience needs. You want to show that sales have dropped by 200,000 cartons! While this is critical news, try to dig deeper. Customize the data so your audience can relate. 200,000 cartons might not immediately mean much to a marketer. Translate the impact of this loss to specific measures like Market Share, Working Capital, Stock in Hand, Inventory, etc. Your audience will build a greater affinity for the data and see the sense of urgency. Job done!
4) Trigger discussion and debate. An effective presentation is one that provokes dialogue. Numbers are a great ‘fuel’ for conversation. Example, your analysis shows that even though advertising spends are going up, brand market shares are still low. Use this data to challenge and provoke your audience. Are we using the right creative strategy? Are we spending on the correct channels? You will get a much healthier output. Make sure, however, that you don’t lose control over the presentation and that there is a clear action plan put into place.
5) Know your numbers. If you are going to present numbers, then you better know them inside out. I have hardly ever seen a presentation, where numbers are not challenged or questioned. If this happens, keep your cool and be confident. State your source of information and try to evaluate the main reason for concern. Hear out your audience well and decide on the suitable action.
6) Maintain structure. What is the main message you want your audience to walk away with? Be clear about this while structuring your presentation. Use numbers and figures strategically only if they help you land the main message. Challenge yourself to using only important data points. Don’t overload your slides. You can use the appendix for detailed charts.
Always think about the story behind the numbers. That will help you connect better with your audience and have a healthier and richer discussion. In future posts, I will also suggest more visual treatments to present complex data and numbers.