D. Murali

A COMMON taunt is to denigrate accountants as lacking in presentation skills when compared to MBAs. It is easy to take sides on the issue; but rather than curse the bleak image, let me light a lamp by opening Gary Kroehnert's Basic Presentation Skills, from Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing Co Ltd (www.tatamcgrawhill.com).

First RAMP 2 FAME. Not a catwalk instruction but a mnemonic to remember nine principles of presentations: recency, appropriateness, motivation, primacy, two-way communication, feedback, active learning, multi-sense learning, and exercise.

Presentation kills if you don't know how to do one, but know that you can also present a skill, rather than mere numbers and charts. An example is the explaining of how one uses software package. "Present at normal speed," advises Gary, and adds, "present again slowly... pausing between key points to let them sink in." A separate chapter discusses presentation notes and session plans.

What are the methods of presentation? You answer promptly, "PowerPoint!" but Gary lists many, such as lecture, demonstration, group discussion, fishbowl, role-play, simulation, games, video, brainstorming, field trips, and Q&A.

There are also group methods such as conferences, seminars, workshops and clinics. Delphi technique should sound interesting if you're often asked to go to Delhi for council meetings; in this, "group members don't need to get together"!

Avoid mannerisms when presenting. These may be verbal ones, "`umm', `errh' and `you know'", as you know, or the other type such as rubbing the nose, scratching the neck, fiddling with objects, staring at notes, or "trying to crush a whiteboard marker." If that seems difficult, there are tougher situations you may have to face. The group may remain silent, almost `bombarding' you with a message: That "you are covering material they have already been presented with" or they just don't understand what's being presented. With lights on, you'd know if they're asleep and not snoring.

Good read without the usual clutter of screenshots of PowerPoint.

Bankable fundas

As auditors of banks and also business advisors of clients, you should read "Banking Products & Services," from the Indian Institute of Banking & Finance (www.iibf.org.in) and Taxmann (www.taxmann.com). The compact book devotes chapters to deposit accounts, secured advances, retail banking, and wealth management. Let me run you through a few terms.

For starters, do you know the meaning of `negative lien'? If your answer is in the negative, it is where "the borrower submits a declaration to the banker that his assets mentioned are free from any charge or encumbrance". Name "the world's largest market," in terms of trading volume. It is the currency exchange market, as the book informs; "a true 24-hour market, five days a week." Whatis `cross rate'? It is the exchange rate between two non-dollar currencies.

Guess the opposite of `legal mortgage'. Not `illegal', but equitable. Check if you know how a home improvement loan is different from a home extension loan or home conversion loan. If you are helping out a client manage his or her wealth, focus on three things apart from your fee: Accumulation, so the client's wealth grows; preservation to ensure that it is well-protected; and transfer, where the emphasis is on ensuring smooth transfer of client's assets to heirs "at a minimum tax cost."

I'd advise bankers too to read this.

Take allegations head on

Meet Babar Thakur or `Babs' in Anurag Mathur's "The Department of Denials," from Penguin (www.penguinbooksindia.com

). Babs' daddy Thakur is the head of the new department (DODO, `o' for Office) to bounce back allegations that rain in from many sources upon minister Balak Kumar.

There is also a steno to match: "So inept, that no matter what was dictated to him, after he had finished vigorously scribbling it down and laboriously typing it out, the end result was a malevolent assassination of the original effort... it had no resemblance to the original at all." Thakur, a seasoned bureaucrat that he is, comes up with a revolutionary idea: `anticipatory denial' with the corollary `anticipatory resignation'. "Could it not be argued that, in the event of an Indo-Pak cricket final at Sharjah, the minister for sports should submit his anticipatory resignation in case some over-enthusiastic fan died of a heart attack in front of his television set in the likely event of a pulsating finish?

And what if a drunken sailor on an Indian Navy vessel visiting a port on a goodwill visit fell overboard one night, drowned and was later said to be unhappy at the non-implementation of all the Pay Commission's recommendations?"

Undeniably hilarious.


(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 3, 2005)
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