7 Ways Frustrated Finance Professionals can Use to Show up As Valuable and Visible
It's no wonder that so many finance professionals are feeling adrift in their roles at the moment.
Forget the pandemic, the rapid changes in digital have shifted the role requirements so dramatically, leaving talented people with a feeling that they are stuck in their situations.
"Must have good communication skills".
A requirement is written in every job spec for accounting or finance professionals in the past 30 years. But no more...
Upskilling your talents
Communication, interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence are now at the top of the list, coming up as 'most desired' skill set to cope with the future trends of digital transformations, as well as the fast-growing role of Finance Partner in organisations
Strong communication and interpersonal skills come out as the top most desired soft skillset, followed by problem-solving and flexibility and adaptability. All these soft skills lend themselves to an age where businesses need to adapt quickly to change as digital transformation continues to make the agenda across many organisations.
Creative, critical and people-skills provide a higher level of value that are not only sought after but crucial to the success of a modern finance team.
How can you develop these skills, quickly and powerfully?
Public speaking gives you a powerful way to evolve these skills. I'm not saying you need to get up and deliver a Ted talk any time soon, however, the benefits of learning public speaking are vast in developing your own influence and strengths to engage people.
Public speaking doesn't just increase your career prospects, it benefits the finance function overall, and here's how:
7 Skills you develop from Public Speaking
1) Communicate the big picture
Finance is a complex and detailed subject - to communicate the overall big picture is is what really gives you value as a finance professional. Getting your point across concisely is a big public speaking skill, it's telling a structured story to bring the audience on a decision journey with you from where they are, to where you are. Often there is too much detail in financial reports, but learning storytelling especially with data and financial reports makes that information influential and brings everyone in on the big picture.
2) Get people on board
Certainly in a leadership role, you need to be able to be seen as influential, so that your work really impacts the right people at the right time in your organisation. Public speaking is all about using emotion, logic and reason to help people to get on board with your thinking in the face of change.
3) Stronger self-awareness and confidence
I'll be bold here; there is a reason why all public schools teach speaking and debate from an early age. Learning to speak clearly and confidently gives a competitive edge and executive presence. We trust those that speak with ease, it sounds like they know what they are talking about, even though we know that competence can have little to do with speaking well. Thankfully, speaking is a skill that can be learned like any other and should be used by those who do know what they are talking about.
4) Innovation and critical thinking
On a deeper level, learning public speaking techniques gets you comfortable with failing in order to succeed. Failing in order to succeed is a trait that every scientist, creative, athlete, explorer or groundbreaking tech company have in spades. They aren't afraid to try new ways and things, actively seeking out trial and error to be faster, better and stronger than before. Speaking requires letting go of perfection and adjusting as you go. It's about trying new ways, and exploring what works.
Instead of sitting in a backroom somewhere, the changes in finance mean getting comfortable with being visible and building strong relationships with stakeholders. Public speaking teaches you how to engage and capture the hearts and minds of an audience - aka rapport, whether for your career personally or for the greater good of the organisation,
6) Increases emotional intelligence
The mother of rapport is EQ - or Emotional Quotient, which ACCA added to the list of required skills in finance back in 2015 in their Future Skills report. A common misconception is that public speaking is about talking AT people, but you'll notice the best speakers, presenters and leaders bring you along with them. Learning public speaking, really good public speaking training, teaches you to recognise and respond to people's emotions, actively listening to their voice, face, and body language to steer the conversation as they need. In essence, it's about how you make other people feel.
7) Self Awareness
I will always argue that great public speaking is never about you, but about your value to the audience. However, to really deliver that value, you need to be acutely aware of yourself. Public speaking helps you to look at your behaviour, your sound, your movements, how you come across to others, how comfortable you are in your self... the list is endless. There is only ever going to be value in that.
There is much to be gained from public speaking, and there any many ways you can build these skills up. You can join speaking clubs, or take the opportunity to speak where you can; volunteer for presentations, or to lead skills sessions, chair more meetings, be a guest speaker on a podcast, invest in training, or a coach to help you explore your natural voice, and build strong behaviours.
Either way - get out there, get visible and expand those all-important people skills. Finance needs them in the future.
Join me in February for my Speaking in Public Masterclass for finance professionals , find out more here
Alexandra Bond Burnett
I am an Executive Speaking and Impact Coach, and certified DISC practitioner, known for coaching accountancy and finance professionals, a leading writer on presentation skills and presence in finance, host of Presenting Finance podcast, and founder of coaching and training consultancy Speakingambition.com
My focus is working with finance professionals on their confidence, speaking and emotional intelligence skills using my experience in performance, psychology, my background from corporate finance and as the founder of an award-winning digital accounting practice.