BRAIN FOOD: Speaking out Baroness Hogg, Chairman of 3i and BBC Governor

BRAIN FOOD: Speaking out Baroness Hogg, Chairman of 3i and BBC Governor - Addressing finance directors the day after another US accounting scandal is a tough call. Sarah Hogg decided to feel their pain and was right to do so, helping assuage any feelings

by KHALID AZIZ, chairman of spoken communications specialists, TheAziz Corporation - www.azizcorp.com
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Addressing finance directors the day after another US accounting scandal is a tough call. Sarah Hogg decided to feel their pain and was right to do so, helping assuage any feelings of guilt they had about not being back at the ranch ensuring the CEO wasn't selling the family silver.

The talk, 'Challenges facing the modern board', began with a slide of company logos such as Enron's and Marconi's - the Finance Directors Forum audience visibly winced. She then drew heavily on the famous 3i calendar cartoons, including 'What lemmings think', picturing the creatures marching off a cliff and rising upwards rather than falling into the sea, to illustrate how eternal boardroom optimists see profits and share prices. The climate of 2002 meant that the board would be listening rather more carefully to the FD, said Hogg - music to their ears. Another key slide was a pyramid detailing essential qualities for finance directors aspiring to CEO - apparently named Hogg's Hierarchy in 3i. Underpinning it was 'Integrity'.

It looked as if Hogg had prepared the presentation herself, which was good, and what's more it had brevity - a crisp 15 minutes. She needs help with her voice and breathing, and could loosen up a bit, but overall it hit the spot.

Key moment: Hogg's revelation that her plea for more non-exec training hit a brick wall when she put it to the FSA.

Key lesson: When you've said what you have to say, shut up. It's far better to shorten your presentation and have questions rather than stretch things to fill an hour slot.

Silver tongue or foot in mouth? Silver Tongue.

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