One of the quickest ways to kill your credibility in front of the board is to have a data error in the presentation. When the same data point is different on two different slides, it kick-starts a conversation about data veracity and sourcing, and it can seem like the insights and analysis that follow are built on a shaky foundation. Using a presentation tool that draws from a single source of up-to-date data dramatically increases the credibility and trust the finance team has with the audience.
But beyond presentation content, consider its design. It’s easy to think of design as an afterthought or flourish, but streamlined, uncluttered slides can actually bolster credibility. In one classic study that pitted a strong speaker against a less compelling one using no slides, well-designed, or ugly slides, researchers found that well-designed slides significantly influenced the audience—regardless of the speaker’s skill. That’s because how information is presented evokes an emotion, and when the audience saw crisp, professional slides they were more likely to rate the speaker’s idea as credible and worthwhile. For board presentations, creating the best slides doesn’t have to mean hiring a full-time graphic designer, but it should mean choosing a presentation tool with an intuitive interface that allows even non-designers to create professional-looking slides.
It’s easy, in the run-up to a board meeting, to want to focus all of your time on picking out data points and streamlining analysis. But keep in mind that the way you present that information can sway everything from the conversation that follows to the board’s view of the finance function.
This article first appeared on the blog of Adaptive Insights, a Workday Company. Also see, “5 CFO Tips for Better Board Reporting.”