In a world that’s moving faster every day, it’s imperative communicators learn to speak about the business using the same language that its owners do. To mark the release of the Ragan Communications Leadership Council’s newest report, “Building Business Fluency: Making the Case for Communications as a Business Driver,” let’s look at some insights that can inform how comms can partner with the finance team to learn the language of business and teach others about it in the process.
The trifecta of financial documents
Communicators must be able to interpret and pull out relevant narratives from financial documents, paying particular importance to the balance sheet, income statement and statement of cash flow.
“They’re all pieces, and they are interconnected, but you use different ones for different things and different reasons,” said one CCO. “Look at them as pieces to a whole and not in isolation. Financial statements always exist within context.”
The report looks at how to read a balance sheet through this lens, focusing on why its insights into valuation are helpful for communicators to understand.
In most organizations, managers are a conduit to help relay a message to the wider employee base. It’s important for managers to talk about business fluency with their reports, and this is achievable by asking questions about their knowledge of the organization and how their work fits into it.
The report includes 10 questions that managers can pepper into regular check-ins and chats with employees who aren’t yet talking about the business.
Clarity and context
Taking the lead on designing an infographic can also empower communicators to cut through some of the jargon and business speak that’s keeping key developments from being understood by internal stakeholders. Communication is ultimately about alleviating confusion, and sometimes that means reminding other business leaders of the best way to explain something so it’s understood.
“I think we need to set the tone for business acumen and literacy by doing it ourselves,” another CCO said, emphasizing the importance of including everyone in earnings meetings. “It’s making people sensitive to the financial jargon, and how it can collide with the expectations internally.”
The newest Ragan Communications Leadership Council’s report, “Building Business Fluency: Making the Case for Communications as a Business Driver” is available exclusively to council members. Reach out to learn more about joining the council and access the full report.