Are the numbers talking to me?

As I am coming up to the end of my financial year, a lot of my communication at the moment is with my accountant. He is a great support throughout the year, but as we come to the end of one accounting period and the start of the next, he is invaluable.

If I’m honest, numbers have never spoken to me in the way that words do. And even the words that are associated with finance are sometimes alien to me. But thanks to my accountant – let’s call him Derek – I have come to understand much better the things that I need to know as a business owner.

So how has Derek brought this transformation about?

Well, first of all, he knows what he is trying to achieve. He knows that he needs to get me to understand my accounts sufficiently to be able to sign them off. It’s ultimately my responsibility, so I have to know what’s going on. But there are lots of finance-related things that don’t have anything to do with my business, so he’s not telling me about those.

Communication lesson – know what your purpose is.

Secondly, he does a very good job of understanding me. I’m not a finance professional, I’m a lay person who wants to understand, with limited knowledge of finance jargon and a nervous rash every time HMRC get in touch (it’s the manner of their communication, not a guilty conscience). So Derek adapts how he talks to me, using simple explanations and no jargon. I’m sure he talks to accountant buddies in a very different way.

Communication lesson – adapt your communication for your audience.

Finally, Derek also presents information to me in a clear, simple way – and he uses colours on the spreadsheet because he knows I like those.

Communication lesson – understand your audience’s preferences and reflect those in your communications.

Every profession has its own knowledge, processes and jargon (including the internal communication profession). If you are offering a service to clients, it’s important to recognise that you need to think carefully when communicating with them. And that should help you to achieve the success that Derek has had in finally getting me to understand numbers.

If you would like some help with communicating (words and numbers), please get in touch.

Until next time


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