Presentations that impress your audit committee
ComplianceApril 30, 2024

Presentations that impress your audit committee

Internal audit departments occupy a distinctive position within an organization, being one of the few groups with direct access to both the board and the audit committee. An effective internal audit department is one that can collaboratively work with the audit committee as a strategic partner in enterprise governance. However, a world-class internal audit department goes beyond these expectations.

Adhering to best practices, the audit committee should possess a comprehensive understanding of the organization's current state and the tasks carried out by the audit team. The Institute of Internal Auditors (The IIA)1 reinforces this notion with the following statement: “Inherent in the audit committee charter is its responsibility for monitoring and reviewing the performance of the internal audit activity. Because the input of the internal auditors is so critical to the success — and potentially, the very survival — of an organization, it is important for the audit committee to have a clear picture of the internal audit activity’s performance, and ensure that it is functioning well.”

Unfortunately, leaders in internal audit frequently face challenges in effectively communicating this information to the audit committee. By placing emphasis on the presentation of data, it becomes feasible to enhance the value that internal audit brings to the committee, consequently augmenting the audit committee's overall value to the organization.

What should be included in an audit committee presentation?

A crucial element in assisting the audit committee in establishing organizational priorities lies in the volume of information presented to them. Internal audit should exercise caution, ensuring not to inundate the committee with excessive details.

Effective presentation methods must also be identified and applied. As a fundamental approach, incorporate a summary of the information. Supplementary details can be included in an appendix accompanying the summary. It's crucial to bear in mind that audit committees usually have a restricted timeframe for reviewing data, so ensure brevity and deliver essential reports well ahead of any scheduled meeting.

What audit topics are appropriate to present?

1. Risk information

Risks are a constant and dynamic element. Consequently, aligning with the fundamental audit process, it is crucial to emphasize the latest and most accessible risk information for the audit committee. Open discussions centered on risk, based on the most recent data, should be integral to the annual risk assessment. Furthermore, any additional shifts in the organization's risk profile should be revisited periodically throughout the year and addressed accordingly.

2. Present audit results and trends

Avoid getting caught up in minutiae; opt for providing overarching trending information related to audit outcomes. Illustrating trends offers a more comprehensive depiction of the organization's overall status. Examples could include a variety of audit findings, categorization of audit outcomes by business units, or changes in the status of different control classifications. The specific details reported will vary based on the industry and company.

Collaborate in open discussions with committee members to assess the relevance of the captured information to their needs and identify any concerns addressable through trending data. Utilizing an effective Audit Management tool can significantly reduce the time invested in gathering this data. Unfortunately, audit management teams often expend days or weeks compiling information manually, risking the omission or distortion of pertinent and trending data. Embrace those available tools to expedite and enhance the efficiency of the process.

3. Know your audience and focus on what matters to them

Identify the specific internal audit opinions or selective assurances that hold value for the audit committee. Many committees prefer opinions on specific areas or processes rather than a broad, blanket opinion. Audit reports traditionally communicate the effectiveness of financial controls, risk management processes, governance processes, or regulatory compliance. Explore the possibility of collaborative reporting with other risk and control functions such as Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) teams, Compliance departments, Fraud Investigators, SOX and Control groups, Legal, or Health and Safety for a more comprehensive perspective.

4. Include an assessment of the internal audit department

Audit Committee reports should also include an assessment of the internal audit department’s quality and performance. The reporting should go beyond basic statistics on the audit staff (e.g., experience and certifications) and external quality assessment reviews, and include information on the specific KPIs from interaction with stakeholders, possibly even employing Balanced Scorecard techniques.

5. Present the most valuable information and include impactful visuals

In formal internal audit presentations, it's essential to tailor the materials to meet the specific needs of the audit committee. When utilizing a slide deck, make sure the slides are succinct and pertinent, all the while sustaining an engaging and compelling presentation style. Avoid overwhelming the audience with excessive information and instead focus on delivering what the committee needs and wants to know. Opt for presentation slides featuring summary data in a clear, easy-to-read bullet format, complemented by color-coded charts, dashboards, and heatmaps. Avoid text-heavy slides to maintain a brisk and captivating pace, preventing the audit committee from losing interest.

Also consider using data visualization techniques when presenting the audit findings to help improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the audit report. By introducing data visualization techniques and tools, internal auditors can produce more impactful audit reports that effectively communicate their key messages, increase stakeholder engagement, and support data-driven decision-making.


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How often should the audit committee present? Who should they present to?

Audit committee presentations serve as a formal means of communication, usually conducted quarterly. Given the dynamic nature of the organization's operations and risk profile, audit management is encouraged to interact more frequently and informally with the audit committee chairperson through phone calls or emails. There is no inherent need for the Chief Audit Executive (CAE) to restrict communications with the Audit Committee Chair to just four times or fewer each year.

Break down barriers

When considering audit committee presentations, it typically involves discussing a presentation delivered by the Chief Audit Executive (CAE) to a subset of the Board of Directors. Audit management often invests more time than necessary in preparing these quarterly presentations. The meetings are conducted in private and may not be revisited until the next quarter. The inherent stress in this process can lead to a perceived divide between the audit staff and the audit committee, with the committee sometimes seen as a watchdog group. In reality, the audit committee is a natural extension of the audit department. It's worth exploring ways to break down these barriers for increased transparency and a more seamlessly integrated process.

Involve other staff

Engage other members of the team in the preparation of the audit committee presentation PowerPoint (PPT) and related materials. Consider allowing staff to witness the inner workings of an audit committee meeting through web meeting tools or extend invitations for one or two members to attend and observe in person during each review. By involving the broader team in the reporting and presentation process, you can eliminate any mystery surrounding the procedure and foster a deeper sense of commitment and teamwork. This collaborative approach may also enhance the overall quality of the presentation by distributing the workload and incorporating fresh ideas from a diverse range of audit team members.


Internal audit is frequently regarded as trusted advisors to an organization, entrusted with the responsibility of furnishing stakeholders, the board, and the audit committee with actionable information essential for evaluating the audit plan, risks, controls, and overall audit results, among other factors.

The presentation of this information should be accurate, comprehensible, and easily digestible. If you find yourself grappling with where to begin or seek a tangible illustration, please feel free to review and download a copy of our audit committee PowerPoint presentation slide template.

  1. The Audit Committee: Internal Audit Oversight

Download the Presentation Template for Presentations that Impress

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