S2E6 – Jennie Scheel | How to Translate Accounting: Communicating the Story Behind the Numbers
My guest today is Jennie Scheel, CFO of Five Nines Technology Group and a previous attendee of my Financial Storytelling seminar.
After the seminar, she sent me an email with a nice compliment about the class and asked if I knew of any great summaries that I could share with her for taking accounting data and turning it into a powerful story… but at that time, and even still, I didn’t know of any.
The big problem with presenting accounting information to non-accountants is the language barrier – not everybody speaks the foreign language of Accounting.
But on top of that, most of Jennie’s co-workers speak a different foreign language: engineering. So she has to learn a second foreign language and translate that into accounting, then translate all of the relevant information into plain English for executives and clients.
The information is often complex – accounting is difficult! – so our goal should be to make it as simple as possible. Your audience probably doesn’t need to know anything about accrual, debits, or credits. They just need to understand enough about the organization to make the best possible decisions for their business.
As John Medina, the author of Brain Rules, says: numbers are boring.
Luckily, there’s always a story behind the numbers! And the more you can evoke emotion with that story, the more you can keep people awake and attentive, the more impact your presentation will have.
After my class, Jennie was able to take a presentation about the balance sheet for her organization and tell a story using a dollar bill to help them understand what the costs were and how the organization became profitable.
It might seem like an extremely simplified way to present a balance sheet – and to a degree, it is – but it was a huge success.
Jennie received a compliment from one of the employees in the room after that presentation: “She said usually when you used to get up in the meetings, you would smile and act like you were happy about the numbers. So I thought they must be great. I had no idea what you were saying, but then you were smiling so I thought great… But she said this time, when you put the dollar up there, I actually understood what you were talking about – I could understand the business.”
You see, when you take the NUMB out of numbers, it leaves you with ERS: effective, relatable stories, which leads to confidence and clarity.
So I challenge you to look at your financial presentation and ask yourself: Is it time for a change? If so, give me a call or send me an email: petermargaritis.com/contact.
- Learn more about Jennie & Five Nines: gonines.com/project/jennie-scheel-cfo/
Change Your Mindset is produced by Podcast Masters
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