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Presenting Financials and Other Numbers So People Will Understand You: Painting with Numbers

Book Description

Learn how to communicate better with numbers

Whether you are distributing a report or giving a presentation, you have a lot of numbers to present and only a few minutes to get your point across. Your audience is busy and has a short attention span. Don't let an amateur presentation bog you down, confuse your audience, and damage your credibility. Instead, learn how to present numerical information effectively—in the same way you learned how to speak or write. With Painting with Numbers, you'll discover how to present numbers clearly and effectively so your ideas and your presentation shine.

  • Use the Arabic numeral system to your advantage master the use of layout and visual effects to communicate powerfully

  • Understand how audiences process your information and how that affects your "personal brand image"

  • Learn how to be perceived as a professional who truly understands the business concepts and issues underlying your numbers

  • Use software tools, including Excel, PowerPoint, and graphs, efficiently and to drive home your point

Author Randall Bolten shares his decades of experience as a senior finance executive distilling complicated information into clear presentations, to help you make your numerical information more comprehensible, meaningful, and accessible. Painting with Numbers is brimming with hands-on advice, techniques, tools, rules, and guidelines for producing clear, attractive, and effective quantation (the word the author has coined for the skill of presenting numbers).

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright
  4. Dedication
  5. Foreword
  6. Preface
  7. Acknowledgments
  8. Introduction
    1. Being “Literate”
    2. It's What They Think That Matters
    3. What You Were Never Taught
    4. Some Notes about Reading This Book
  9. Part I: The Rules
    1. CHAPTER 1: Numerals Matter
      1. Lining Up the Numbers
      2. The Units of Measure
      3. Precision
      4. Negative Numbers: What Do They Mean?
    2. CHAPTER 2: Looks Matter
      1. The Tabula Rasa Decision
      2. The “Where's Waldo?” Effect
      3. White Space Is Your Friend
      4. …But White Space Is Not Always Your Friend
      5. Time and Other Dimensions: Across or Down?
      6. Borders, Shading, and Other Visual Effects
      7. Comments and Artwork
      8. The “Ransom Note” Effect
      9. Two Truly Helpful Hints
    3. CHAPTER 3: Words Matter
      1. Mean What You Say and Say What You Mean
      2. Choosing between Precision and Presentability
      3. Treating Words Like Numbers
      4. Remember the Title. Please.
    4. CHAPTER 4: Your Audience Matters
      1. The Right Amount of Data
      2. Appropriate Emphasis on Critical Information
      3. Consistency
      4. Meaningful and Relevant Numbers
      5. Respect for your Audience's Time
  10. PART II: THE TOOLS
    1. CHAPTER 5: You Can Pay Me Now . . .
      1. The Instant Payoff Tips
      2. Instant Payoff Tip #1: Set Up Templates and Styles
      3. Instant Payoff Tip #2: Customize Your Toolbar
      4. Instant Payoff Tip #3: Learn Some Shortcut Keys
      5. Instant Payoff Tip #4: Use Consistent Formats
      6. Instant Payoff Tip #5: Learn to Use Excel as a Database
      7. Instant Payoff Tip #6: Learn to Use the Lookup & Reference Functions
      8. Instant Payoff Tip #7: Organize Data for Easy Computation
      9. Instant Payoff Tip #8: Learn to Use Automated Help
      10. Instant Payoff Tip #9: Don't Learn Too Many Ways to Do the Same Thing
    2. CHAPTER 6: . . . Or Pay Me Later
      1. The Long-Term Payoff Tips
      2. Long-Term Payoff Tip #1: Use Sensible, Intelligent Filenames and Folder Organization
      3. Long-Term Payoff Tip #2: Use Consistent Formats
      4. Long-Term Payoff Tip #3: Design Intelligent, Intelligible Formulas
      5. Long-Term Payoff Tip #4: Use Named Ranges
      6. Long-Term Payoff Tip #5: Use Named Formulas or Macros
      7. Long-Term Payoff Tip #6: Links: A Force That Can Be Used for Good or Evil
      8. Long-Term Payoff Tip #7: Make Different Types of Cells Visually Distinguishable and Physically Separate
      9. Long-Term Payoff Tip #8: Document Your Work!
      10. Long-Term Payoff Tip #9: Check Your Work!
      11. Long-Term Payoff Tip #10: Avoid Cool New Features
    3. CHAPTER 7: Graphs: The “Cartoons” of Numbers
      1. Why Do People Use Graphs?
      2. Help Your Audience
      3. First, Do No Harm
    4. CHAPTER 8: The Pitfalls of Presentations and PowerPoint
      1. Why Do People Make Fun of Business Presentations?
      2. Real Estate Is a Scarce and Precious Commodity
      3. Help Your Audience
      4. First, Do No Harm
      5. Some Basic Truths That Go Double for Quantation
  11. PART III: REAL MASTERY
    1. CHAPTER 9: It's Clear, But Is It Meaningful?
      1. The War of the Adjectives
      2. A Quantation Professional
      3. Relating to Your Audience in a Constructive Way
    2. CHAPTER 10: 53 . . . Uh, Is That a Lot?
      1. What Is a Key Indicator?
      2. What Makes a Good Key Indicator?
      3. A Simple Example
      4. How Do You Present Key Indicators Effectively?
      5. A Note on Precision
      6. A Note on Dashboards
    3. CHAPTER 11: The One Report Every Organization Needs
      1. A Sample Natural P&L, and What Makes It a Good One
      2. 1. One Page!
      3. 2. Decision-Focused Line Items
      4. 3. Appropriate Dollar Amounts, Neither Too Big Nor Too Small
      5. 4. Intuitive Organization of the Line Items
      6. 5. Understandable Categories, Meaningful to All Users
      7. 6. Plain-English Terminology
      8. 7. Consistent Look-and-Feel
      9. 8. Key Results Equal to the Corresponding Numbers in the Accounting System (or an Explanation Why Not)
      10. Mapping the Chart of Accounts
      11. Generate a Natural P&L from a Spreadsheet, or from the Accounting System?
      12. Now Let's Talk about the Columns
    4. APPENDIX 11 A: A Sermon to the Accounting Purists
    5. CHAPTER 12: The Gaps in GAAP
      1. Rules-Based versus Principles-Based
      2. Where Is All This Headed?
      3. “Expensing” Stock Options
      4. Software Revenue Recognition
      5. Tying GAAP to Internal Management Reports
    6. APPENDIX 12 A: Some Notes on GAAP
      1. What Is GAAP?
      2. Stock Options
      3. Revenue Recognition
    7. CHAPTER 13: Quantation: It's Not Just for Business Anymore
      1. One Taxpayer at a Time
      2. All the Taxpayers at Once
      3. What's Really Going on Here?
    8. CHAPTER 14: Quantation in Ordinary Life
      1. Models
      2. The Meaning of Words
      3. That Quiz I Promised
  12. PART IV: WRAP-UP
    1. CHAPTER 15: Speaking Truth to Power
      1. My “Tell the Truth” Syllogism
      2. Reason #1 for Telling the Truth: It's the Right Thing to Do
      3. Reason #2: It's in Your Employer's Interest
      4. Reason #3: It's in Your Interest
      5. Reason #4: You Will Get Caught
      6. Reason #5: It's the “Gotcha” of This Book
      7. Don't Be So Smug, You Civil Servants and Elected Officials!
      8. Your Audience Has a Role, Too
    2. CHAPTER 16: Now, What's the First Thing You Do?
      1. My Last, Best Tip
      2. It's Just a Skill
      3. Where We Have Been
  13. Appendix: Jazz Meets Theology
    1. Revisitation
    2. The Sins of Presentation
    3. The Sins of Behavior
    4. The Deadliest Sin of All
  14. About the Author
  15. Index