Friday, October 10, 2008

Presenting (Bad) Financial News

With the current finanical crisis upon us, there's going to be plenty of management meetings packed with presenters feeling the heat as they deliver some poor finances. Whilst this is never fun, it is a reality of the job that most people have to face from time to time. So is there any way of presenting bad news, both it terms of the actual presentation and visuals.

Typically, from a 'slide' perspective, I would remind most people that senior managers are more interested in what you have to say, than show. In these situations, it's your capability as a manager that is clearly being tested. Whilst you must account for the numbers (there's no running away from it! And do expect to get verbal rebuts), and highlight some of the issues, it is more important to spend time on the recommedations for implementing key actions.

Slides then, should be kept to the minimum - stick to this type of general flow:

  • Key Financial Summary (highlights & Lowlights) - the type of data shown here may depend on whether your a listed company and/or division you're representing.

  • Key issues affecting the results

  • Key actions and recommendations

  • Remember to add in all expected/projected revenues as well as any timelines and deadlines.

  • Don't clutter the slide with unneccessary visuals - keep it simple with the numbers.
Also, try to avoid just cutting and pasting excel sheets that display the whole chart - control the flow of your presentation or you will find yourself in a situation where your discussing the top line, and your managers are grilling you at the bottom line - knocking you off all too often a train of thought and prepared issues to highlight.

I also came across a timely article on the CNN website from Anne Fisher, Senior Writer with the article entitled "How to Deliver Bad Financial News". I have also put some of the main points her in this slideshow for you to view.


GeorgeB said...


I've been reading your blog for quite a while and I am very curious about the way you make those "sticky notes" you use for explaining the images.
Is it explained in your book, because I've already bought it and I can't find it?


Mark James Normand said...

Hi George

Thanks for reading the blog and getting the e-book.

Actually, this technique is just 'insert image'. The sticky tape, the paper-clip and the post-it were images I found on Once I download them, I just insert them.

What I will do, is provide a free file download of some handy .png images such as the sticky tape and some others images.

If the files are not too large, I'll also provide some free .ppt files that contain some sample animations.


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