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You may wonder what public speaking could possibly have to do with being a CA(SA). After all, CAs are known less for their witty repartee than they are for their number sense – aren’t they?

That’s where you’re wrong. Accounting is essentially the foundation of almost any business you can think of, which is why it’s so important to have good communication skills – as a CA(SA) you’re a crucial member of any team or organisation.

As such, says Sheila Shanker in an article posted on smallbusinesschronicles.com, you need to be able to clearly communicate all accounting functions – from payroll to cash flow and budget preparations, in order for this information to be useful. Ultimately, the role of a CA(SA) is about providing the financial data that enables the decision makers to make their decisions; it must make sense to be understood or all you are doing is presenting a list of meaningless figures.

The data produced by CAs(SA) is used for a host of important functions. Investors will use the information to see how an organisation is performing financially before they commit their money; banks need to understand the liquidity and cash flow information of a business before they approve loans – and all of this is down to how you communicate information.

Of course, most accountants probably won’t list public speaking as one of their strong points. If you fall into this category, we have some practical tips that should make the process a little easier.

There are all the obvious pieces of advice: prepare, practice, know your subject matter – but being a good presenter goes a step beyond all of this. For starters, remember who you are: you’re a CA, which means nobody expects to roll on the floor with laughter when you speak, or be moved to tears of inspiration. Simply relax, be yourself and do what you do best and present your report – this will go a long way to taking the pressure off.

That said, starting a presentation off with a bang – some interesting piece of information that will shake up your audience is the best way to get – and keep - their attention, says business owner Syms Wyeth in a post he wrote for www.inc.com.

Think of how you speak – if you’re not clear in terms of your pronunciation, your audience won’t understand you and they’ll stop listening. Also pay attention to your tone – you may have a microphone but be sure people can hear what you’re saying. If they can’t, you will lose them.

Other tips from Wyeth include being interactive – don’t talk at people, talk to them. Bring them into what you’re saying by including them in your examples or asking questions; you don’t want to give the impression of being a teacher in a classroom.

If you’re using slides, make sure they have clear and snappy headlines; it keeps your talk interesting and sums up what you’ll be discussing.

And finally – get to the point and keep it short – in an environment where we’re all short of time, your audience will thank you for it.    

Epic Discussion

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