AGM reporting is an opportunity to measure impact, embrace change and address scope. It is a chance to communicate with executive and non-executive stakeholders invested in your business – financially or otherwise – on the performance and prospects of your business. Rather than looking at the reporting as a statutory responsibility, organisations need to understand annual reports for what they truly are: the story of your business. Read on to find out the best way to engage and inspire your audience in your AGM speech:
Tip#1: show, and tell
To amplify fiscal communication, you need to simplify the means. Visual communication is a great tool at your disposal and images can perfectly complement your message. A minimalist approach is a good one to adopt when designing a presentation. If you do not have a graphic design team, then royalty-free stock images are a solid option to source visuals from for your presentation. Some go-to options are Pexels, Unsplash and Morguefile. However, beware of adding too much visual content into your PowerPoint – don’t overdo it!
In scenography, set designers play with the idea of ‘negative space’ i.e. empty space that surrounds an object. Resist the temptation to fill every inch of space available on the slide with bullet points, figures, graphs and charts. Instead, hone the audience’s attention in on one or two key elements. Embrace the elegance of the empty space.
Tip#2: the 10/20/30 rule
Guy Kawasaki, the Chief Evangelist of the graphic design tool Canva, preached the 10/20/30 rule of PowerPoint. A presentation should have 10 slides, be no longer than 20 minutes and the text on the screen should have a font size of at least 30.
Think of your slides as a tango partner – partner connection resides at the heart of tango. In a tango partnership, one dancer always leads and the other follows. You are the leading partner and your slides are the following partner. They have to work in sync. If your talk leans too much on your slides, or the slides push completely against the presentation, your presentation will be thrown.
The reasoning behind PechaKucha’s signature 20 slides for 20 seconds rule and TED’s trademark 18 minute talks isn’t rocket science – people’s attention spans are short and this forces the speaker to carefully curate the content they are going to present. Craft a compelling narrative around the data – don’t be afraid to include personal, inspiring or humorous anecdotes from the financial year gone past. Retention power is also higher when people receive shorter bouts of information rather than long, drawn-out data.
As for the 30 point font size, the reason is that it will highlight your most crucial points and allow you to deep dive into them for your audience. You’ll be doing more than just reading words off a screen.
Tip#3: rehearse, rehearse, rehearse and repeat
The only way to achieve ease on stage is to dogmatically practise your presentation behind the scenes. The best actors rehearse until they internalize a delivery to be deceptively simple. The worst thing you can do is to literally read the speech. An AGM report is the perfect time to reflect on the successes of the year, outline the lessons learnt along the way and communicate the trajectory of the upcoming 12 months. In sum, you need to be crystal clear in your content in terms of intent, logic and structure, and rehearsing helps you focus your energies on mastering your delivery. People expect AGM reports to be dull. Surprise them.
Rehearse the presentation beforehand in front of a trusted colleague or friend. Consider your verbal and non-verbal delivery. Remember, you need the members of the board and the shareholders to buy in to your vision. You don’t want to end up with poor vocal production, constrained use of space and tense body language.
At NIDA Corporate, we empower you with individually tailored rehearsal tools and techniques so you can boost audience engagement and build a speaker profile. Check out our Corporate Performance course to learn more about our offering.
When delivering the annual report, you don’t have the luxury of an opening night to learn from your mistakes. You get one shot. Make effective communication a part of your corporate culture!
About this author: Nithya Nagarajan, Client Engagement Manager – NIDA Melbourne, NIDA Corporate