Sharpening Your Presentation Skills

The role of the accountant has evolved into a more visible position within the company. Gone are the days of the stereotypical “bean counter” who sat in a back room compiling financial reports. Today's accounting professionals are front and center, providing information to many different individuals and groups — often to people outside of their company or field. To distinguish yourself and expand your career opportunities, you'll need to continuously sharpen your presentation skills.

Following are some tips for preparing and delivering winning presentations:

Know your material. Make sure you're familiar with the subject you'll be discussing. The more knowledge you have about a topic, the better able you'll be to convey your message and answer questions from the audience.

Use visual aids. Work with tools such as flip charts and PowerPoint slides. These items will not only help support your statements but will also make the speech more interesting and give audience members a visual stimulus.

Practice. Once you've gathered and organized all of the information and tools you need, rehearse what you'll say and how you'll say it. You shouldn't try to memorize your presentation, but you should be familiar enough with the material that you don't have to read from a script. Speaking from an outline will allow you to refer to visual aids more easily and keep the guests' attention.

Stay focused. An audience member's primary concern is “how does this apply to me?” Provide only relevant information and don't stray from the topic. Also, remember to use clear, straightforward language. In many instances, you'll be addressing professionals from another industry who may not recognize technical jargon.

Companies need accounting professionals who can effectively deliver financial information to a number of diverse groups. Possessing strong presentation skills will make you more marketable to potential employers and enhance your career prospects

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