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Why are so many good accountants bad public speakers?

December 30, 2009

Why are some people good at presenting numbers on a piece of paper, but bad at getting the message across when speaking in public?

Having coached scores of CFOs over the years, I have come to the conclusion it is because of their rigorous accountancy training.  In fact, there is a clear conflict between the principles that make a good accountant, and those that make a good presenter.

When you apply the principles that make a good accountant – complete honesty, caution, conservatism – to the process of putting together a good presentation, the result is often a series of unclear and confused messages.

How can this problem be overcome?

It’s a process of re-education.  Fortunately, the skills needed to become a good presenter can be easily learned.  Typically, when one of our coaches works with a CFO, it takes between 4 and 6 hours together to turn them into an impressive presenter.

First, there is a period of realisation – which we achieve with video playback.  We do a presentation audit – to identify where skills need polishing.  Then we show techniques for presenting effectively.  Finally we coach techniques to improve each aspect of the presentation.

It rarely takes more than a few hours to turn even the most reluctant CFO into a compelling presenter.


Do you want to become a better presenter?  Learn more below.

> Presenting for accountants


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“I honestly thought it was the most valuable 3 hours I’ve spent with anyone in a long time.”

Mick May CEO, Blue Sky

“The new presentation properly represents the institutional quality of our fund. It has been a step change of us.”

Erwin de Kleijn Head of IR, Saemor Capital

“This training has contributed directly to new business – including a new FTSE100 client.”

Michelle Elstein Head of Business Development, Olswang LLP

“I can honestly say our investment in coaching has paid for itself many times over.”

Ed Coulthard  CEO, Blast Films

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