Presenting Yourself Before Audit Committee

No one would like to be on a sticky wicket or get caught off guard when delivering a presentation — and the stakes are high when  you have to conduct the presentation in front of the Audit Committee. Audit Committee members are no one to mess around with; they are sharp, accomplished, and busy professionals who can be a tough audience for those who have no prior experience in presenting audit findings or talking to an audience more generally. Audit Committees prime agenda is to see through the risks that the organization is facing, what management is doing to get in front of those risks or how they intend to remediate any issues. Likewise they also foresee the end results of all of these actions. It goes without saying that the experienced auditors and even the newer ones can have a hard time speaking to the auditors, preparing and speaking in front of Board .

1. Know what’s important to your Audit Committee- No matter whether you are appearing for the very first Audit Committee presentation or the first you’re making to the Audit Committee with a new company, you have to be all set in regards to your preparation beforehand. To make the communication seamless, you need to engage with your CFO, CAO, CEO, or other senior management about who you’ll be talking to, and how these meetings typically go. The higher ranked officials of your organization will work with you to ensure the right message is delivered and received. Reach out to colleagues as they can help you with their experience on what is expected by the Audit Committee before to get a sense of expectations, typical questions, and potential pitfalls. 

You may anticipate receiving the thoughts and feedback on your presentation with the Audit Committee Chair or your CFO before your meeting. As is the case in many of the companies, you have a room for making prior changes/rectification to your presentation. It is because the presentation will be reviewed by senior leadership beforehand. Compile all of the above information to determine how best to frame your message, what to include, and what to truncate as you craft your presentation.

2. Stay calm and look effortless– Know your material inside and out. This way, you will sound credible enough and would be able to speak more comfortably and concisely when you approach presenting. That is to say you need to develop certain amount of soft skills to develop that expertise for each presentation.

Perhaps some people can pull off a perfect presentation on the fly, but to make the presentation look effortless, you have to put in a tremendous amount of preparatory work.  An important hack is spare some time to understand what your organization is going through, learn about how the industry is trending. This will give you a concise business acumen which is needed to be mindful of tone and delivery. Being prepared for the Audit Committee’s presentation, you can be at ease with the CEO or other board members who have had many meeting prior and already know everything that’s going on. 

3. Practice to gain the flow

There is no denying the fact that practice can help you with your communication skills. People who seem to be composed are also the ones who are better prepared with the most detailed knowledge.

Look for feedbacks from your colleagues, and see what they have to say in regards to your speaking pace and rhythm. The feedback can help address the issues of the speaking too fast and fumbling.

4. Don’t read off of the slides

This looks not only unprofessional but makes you someone who has been ill prepared for the big presentation. Another reason is that the Audit Committee has been given the slides in advance, which means they’ve already read through them and know what’s important to them.

Your presentation should therefore be beyond what’s written on the slide. For example, if management is implementing a new accounting standard, you must add a dedicated slide which gives input on all the new accounting standard is about. You also need to give vivid details on how it would impact the organization, and what internal audit is doing to assist management through this implementation.

5. Take yourself seriously 

Seasoned auditors are used to the jitter and chaos involved — yet they can make presenting look easy by being clear and succinct in their communications all thanks to their experience. If you’re not an experienced presenter, only regular practice can bail you out. Do not underrate the significance of this meeting as you are given the onus to represent the Internal Audit department and the value that you bring to the organization. The process calls for utmost level of professionalism. Put yourself in the shoes of the Audit Committee and gain their perspective. To conclude, you have to be the best version of self and put in knowledge at the time of presentation which will be easier because you have done the research to be well-versed in your subject and articulate the same. 

All you need to be sure is that the presentation should not be a daunting experience as far as the Audit Committee presentation is concerned.

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