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What CEOs have in common with Richie Benaud

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A childhood memory: at the end of the cricket highlights, Richie Benaud would put up a chart of that day’s bowling figures. Then he would read them out. Every single number.

My dad would shout at the TV: I can see the numbers you Australian idiot! Tell me what they mean!

That’s how a lot of us feel about chief executive presentations or results interviews. No matter how many times the hack says “I’ve read the numbers, please give me the context”, the CEO thinks he needs to read them out.

If he is mistaking us for children, that’s understandable, but it feels more like 1) a comfort blanket. 2) a device to cut down on the questions asked.

I think they might be missing a trick. That profits have fallen might not be the most notable thing about the results. But that’s how it might well appear unless we get a good explanation of why they are down.

An answer that doesn’t assume we are City analysts who have been following the shares religiously is what’s needed. Preferably using as little corporate gobbledygook as possible.

Why? is the most important of all journalistic questions. We can usually get to the what and when ourselves.

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