For finance and accounting executives, being heard and understood can be a challenge. Industry jargon and confusing language can create a disconnect between professionals and the clients they serve. However, this doesn’t have to be the case.
Geni Whitehouse, CPA.CITP, CSPM, author of “How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting: 52 ways even a nerd can be heard” and self-proclaimed Countess of Communication shares with us how finance and accounting executives can improve their communication skills and be seen or heard in a different light. She also gives us valuable tips on how to use social media to improve professional image.
1. What is the drive behind your goal to banish boring from accounting and technology?
I believe everyone has something interesting to say, but many times, the interesting bits are buried under a pile of boring details. I have two passions: I want to help people find their voice, and I want to remove the intimidation factor that is associated with accounting and technology.
Non-accountants really need to understand accounting, since it is the language of business, and smart people need to be understood in order to be valued. My goal is to work on the problem from both directions – to improve the message and the delivery.
2. What would you love to see changed about the way finance and accounting executives are viewed?
We need to be viewed as partners with business people. Unfortunately, we have spent way too many years trying to prove how smart we are by using fancy terms, code sections, and acronyms that no one else understands.
Accountants have valuable insight they do not get invited to share with the very people who are desperate for this kind of information. There is a real disconnect, and we are doing a disservice to businesses by not being more approachable.
3. What is your advice to accounting executives who want to be seen or heard in a different light?
Work on your communication skills. Take presentation training, read every book on the subject you can find, and hire real marketing professionals to help you tell a different story. Seek to share less information, not more, and take the time to learn about different communication styles.
Social media is an amazing way to spread ideas and to build networks, but don’t be afraid to show your personality. It’s the only way to form real connections with current and future customers.
The problem for our profession is that we don’t know how to communicate in a real way. We are used to communicating in a boring, professional way (using formal tones and lots of disclaimers). We are very uncomfortable being conversational. I had to work very hard just to get one firm I worked with to use contractions in their customer communications.
It may be tough for professionals who are used to operating from their heads, but today’s tools are all about real connections – you need an interesting story to tell and you need to speak from the heart not the head.
To print a PDF, click here.