Recently I was looking forward to sharing next year’s numbers with everyone at one of my lovely clients. Secretly I even enjoy this bit of public speaking – I love the numbers and I love to share what they mean with a willing audience.
I’d put together the budget diligently. I had a robust revenue forecast. The new business target was a stretch but achievable. I’d reviewed and was happy with the staff costs and overheads.
I’d prepared my slides with just enough detail to be credible but not enough to bore. I’d rehearsed my opening line. In short I was happy and looking forward to sharing the product of my work.
However I’d not noticed who and what was on before me. Our newly appointed Creative Director was up explaining what he wanted to do to our new website.
This wasn’t to be a dry run through of a wireframe. There was barely a finished visual. But there was a compelling story. Explaining what we did for our clients told as a story not as a row of options to navigate to.
A compelling story captivates the audience. They absorb the messages easily. Stories have always been how we communicate best. Some evolutionary theories have it as a way we have progressed so far so quickly. They speak to our hearts and minds.
Following on from this story my trot though the numbers seemed dry and, if I’m being honest, a little dull in comparison.
Now, as the Finance Director, there is something reassuring and comforting about being dull but the contrast between the two different presentations led to a moment of painful clarity. To get the real meaning of the budget across and to make it real to everyone rather than a set of imposed targets I had to tell a better story.
What this means I’m not 100% sure of yet. Who the heroes and villains are is yet to be discovered. What challenges and setbacks they face are still unknown.
There may be a different format with different interactions. There probably won’t be a campfire but let’s not rule it out totally.
To be effective the Agency Finance Director has to be a good communicator. Running through a table of numbers, one by one, does not make a good communicator.
Telling the story of the Agency as it unfolds in a way which engages everyone in the challenges ahead is a pretty good way to improve the chances of success. Now doesn’t everyone want the hero(ine) to get the girl/boy? Doesn’t everyone want their Agency to hit target? Maybe, just maybe, telling a good story is as important as double entry bookkeeping.