Communicating to Bore Audience to Death – Come Join the Club.

One of the perks of an auditing career is that one can write boring and dry reports. Despite this, stakeholders still read every line of the report to see what is at risk, and how it affects their business. I call it a perk, since in this information age the probability of anyone reading a completely boring 50-page report or presentation is very low. Auditors have the privilege of writing them and repeatedly issuing them to an audience that never ignores the report.

 I as an auditor can give you various explanations on why auditorville try and put their audience to sleep without using any sedatives. Besides being caring citizens and do-gooders (at least we like to think so) to reduce insomnia amongst business managers, we write long pointless boring reports because our respective institutes guidelines say so. Now don’t ask me for evidence on this statement, it is an unwritten rule and accepted social etiquette of auditors. We believe our stakeholders should appreciate us for our tenacity to write such reports.

An Auditors Audience Courtesy visualphotos.com

On issuing the report, we choose to give a 30 slides presentation on the same in a monotone. This again is inspired by our charitable nature. Within 5 minutes of our presentation, nothing registers with the audience, some give glazed and blank looks while others nod off. This ensures that our presentation does not cause undue stress to our stakeholders and we do not have to provide emergency medical treatment to senior people. In case anyone shows interest and asks questions, we use mindboggling technical jargon to cause confusion and ensure inattentiveness in future. We feel entitled to use PowerPoint to use our “power” to make “pointless” presentations.

After issuing the report and giving the presentation, amongst auditorville we pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. So what if CXOs are left scratching their heads trying to figure out what we were trying to say in the lengthy presentation. Why should auditors tell CXOs in five minutes or two sentences what the main points are and how they should be mitigating risks? Do the CXOs expect us to sacrifice our sense of entitlement in boring them to death and not crib about them?

Come on now, admit it, as an auditor sometime in your career, you have done this. Some of us do it without realizing what we are doing and understanding our stakeholders expectations. We are prone to this as we rarely take feedback from other readers.

I realized that I was addicted to writing a thesis when I started this blog. I wrote a few articles, and then joined a Writers Forum on LinkedIn. I thought it would be a good idea to ask experienced writers viewpoint on the articles. Wow, did I get feedback. It ranged from “your blog post reads like a research paper” to “subject matter experts write technical jargon which normal readers won’t read, please use a ghost writer”. Some kindly suggested that they are willing to train me to write a blog post. Their points were valid and I wondered whether it was a good idea to hide under the writing-table. But, being a true battle hardened auditor I gained solace and comfort from other risk management bloggers. They were writing in the same style and tone. Yippee!

I know it is disheartening to hear that these mere earthlings don’t understand our superior technical knowledge. Some bosses are rude enough to advise us that we take help of the communication team in the organization. Now how can auditors with their sensitive and confidential information rely upon a communication manager? Either ways, communication team is only experienced in writing poetry and jingles. Auditors are a breed apart.

Now with my serious-concentrating-furrowed-auditor look I would like to tell you the main observation and recommendation.

Observation

Auditors spend 40% of their project time in documentation, writing reports and giving presentations. However, it has been noticed that communication skills are an auditor’s weakest link. Without the ability to effectively communicate, auditors are unable to influence stakeholders and get their buy-in. Hence, the audit recommendations do not get the desired attention.

Recommendation

We suggest that organization should provide auditors required training in verbal and written communication skills to address this drawback.

Sounded familiar, didn’t it. Where do you think we are going wrong? Any ideas?

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