How Can You Present Complex Financial Data to Non-Financial Stakeholders?

How Can You Present Complex Financial Data to Non-Financial Stakeholders?

When it comes to presenting complex financial data to those who aren't number-savvy, the clarity of your message is key. We've gathered the top six pieces of advice from experienced financial professionals, including Senior Financial Analysts and Chief Finance Officers. Their tips range from illustrating before-and-after scenarios to translating data into relatable stories, ensuring your financial presentations resonate with all stakeholders.

  • Illustrate Before-and-After Scenarios
  • Invite Questions and Clarify
  • Contextualize Data with Visual Aids
  • Use Simple Language and Analogies
  • Simplify and Provide Relevant Context
  • Translate Data into Relatable Stories

Illustrate Before-and-After Scenarios

I always recommend using a before-and-after scenario to present complex financial data to non-financial stakeholders. This method effectively illustrates the impact of proposed financial strategies.

For example, if suggesting a cost-reduction initiative, I would demonstrate the current expenditure and then the expected savings post-implementation, highlighting improvements in profitability. This comparison helps stakeholders clearly see the potential benefits, and understand the rationale behind the recommendations. I like this approach because it translates abstract numbers into tangible outcomes, making the data more relatable and actionable.

Michael Schmied
Michael SchmiedSenior Financial Analyst, Kredite Schweiz

Invite Questions and Clarify

Finance is a challenging subject to explain effectively to those who aren't familiar with it. This difficulty is similar to explaining scientific concepts to non-scientists or IT topics to the average person. You're often dealing with technical information that needs to be understood by a non-technical audience.

Therefore, my advice is to periodically stop and invite questions. Take a break in the middle of your presentation and allow the audience around ten seconds to think about and formulate their questions. Pay close attention to each question asked. The audience's questions will indicate whether your message is getting through.

Sometimes, it helps to repeat the question from the audience member. This ensures you understand what is being asked and allows everyone in the room to hear the question, which helps them connect with the answer. For every person who asks a question, there are likely others who have the same query but didn't feel comfortable asking it — yet they still seek the answer.

Additionally, if the questions suggest that your main point hasn't been clearly understood, be ready to restate it or express it in a different way to clarify your message.

Eric Croak, CFP
Eric Croak, CFPPresident, Croak Capital

Contextualize Data with Visual Aids

When presenting complex financial data to non-financial stakeholders, clarity and simplicity are paramount. One effective strategy is to contextualize the data by relating it to specific business objectives or outcomes. Start by identifying the key points that are most relevant to your audience's interests or goals, such as how financial results impact their areas of concern or contribute to overall business success.

Use visual aids like charts, graphs, and infographics to represent data in an intuitive, digestible format. Visuals can convey trends, comparisons, and forecasts more effectively than raw numbers. Avoid jargon and technical terms; instead, use straightforward language and provide explanations for any financial terminology that must be used.

Additionally, it's helpful to anticipate potential questions and prepare clear, concise answers. This not only shows preparedness, but also builds trust by demonstrating transparency and a willingness to engage with stakeholders' concerns. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure stakeholders feel informed and confident about the information presented.

Rose Jimenez
Rose JimenezChief Finance Officer,

Use Simple Language and Analogies

When presenting complex financial data to non-financial stakeholders, use clear and straightforward language to ensure the information is accessible and easily understood. Avoid jargon and technical terms that may confuse or alienate the audience. Instead, focus on explaining concepts in simple terms and using analogies that relate to everyday experiences. This approach helps stakeholders grasp the key points and makes the data more relevant to their interests and responsibilities.

Breaking down information into smaller, digestible parts and providing clear summaries of the main takeaways will also aid in comprehension. Clear communication fosters better decision-making and enhances stakeholder engagement.

Peter Reagan
Peter ReaganFinancial Market Strategist, Birch Gold Group

Simplify and Provide Relevant Context

When presenting complex financial data to non-financial stakeholders, one valuable piece of advice is to focus on simplifying and contextualizing the information. Breaking down the data into easily understandable components is essential, avoiding jargon or technical terms that may confuse the audience. Instead, use clear and concise language to explain the data and its implications in a relatable manner.

Providing relevant context is also crucial, helping stakeholders connect the financial data to the broader business objectives or strategic goals. Visual aids such as charts, graphs, or infographics can enhance understanding. Encouraging questions and open dialogue, tailoring the presentation to the audience's needs, and highlighting key takeaways further promote engagement and informed decision-making.

Sacha Ferrandi
Sacha FerrandiFounder & Principal, Source Capital

Translate Data into Relatable Stories

When presenting complex financial data to non-financial stakeholders, think of yourself as a translator at the United Nations of Finance. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to turn that intimidating spreadsheet into a story that even your grandma would find riveting. Use relatable analogies and simple visuals—like pie charts that actually make you hungry.

Once, I had to explain a convoluted ROI model to a room full of creatives. I compared the investment to planting a garden: some seeds (dollars) grow into tall sunflowers (profits), while others might just sprout tiny daisies (smaller returns). By the end of the meeting, they were not only nodding, but also discussing which flowers they’d plant in their imaginary gardens.

The key is to demystify the data, so it feels less like a calculus exam and more like a bedtime story with a happy ending.

Lukasz Zelezny
Lukasz ZeleznySEO Consultant, SEO ANT LTD

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