It’s Friday afternoon and we’re all at the Interface London showroom, which also happens to be my first On Purpose placement. I’m sitting there, trying to muster the courage and the energy to get through the next two hours, thinking to myself, dear Lord, what have I done to deserve yet another round of financial training? Having sat through at least half a dozen such trainings during my professional career, I was prepared for yet another long and uninspiring session on cash flows and P&Ls.
However, by the end of the session, our trainer Mihiri Jayaweera managed to convince even the most sceptical people in the room (i.e. me) that financial trainings can indeed be appealing and thought provoking.
So what set the financial training apart? Here are the things that Mihiri did that transformed a potentially dull subject into an interesting and relevant one:
- Do not just stick to dry theory: Provide the audience with real life examples to work on, preferably from organisations they are familiar with or likely to be interested in.
- Do not just delve straight into the accounts: Take the time to prepare your audience for what they’re going to encounter by asking what they’d expect to find in the statements. In this way, financial statements are magically transformed into something that should not be feared but can be easily understood even by non-experts.
- Make the seemingly boring balance sheets come alive: Give your audience insightful and novel ways of looking at the same information. Ask them for example to take a closer look at the supporting notes to find the real story behind the figures!
- Don’t be afraid to let them create their own accounts from scratch: One of the things we all enjoyed was the success of producing our very own cash flow masterpieces, something I personally thought I’d never be actually interested in, let alone capable of doing.
You’ll know that you’ve succeeded in your mission when you hear members of the audience admit they’re going to dig up balance sheets in their spare time so they can practice further.
Now…where did I put that Interface balance sheet…