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

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CHAPTER 4

Your Audience Matters

Boy, the food at this place is really terrible. Yeah, I know; and such small portions.

—Alvy Singer (Woody Allen), recollecting a tough audience's conversation at a Catskills resort restaurant (the opening lines of Annie Hall, 1977)

When you present numbers, your information is always for someone, for a specific purpose. Your audience is a key component of your presentation, and understanding how your audience thinks and uses information is another aspect of effective quantation.

Your audience can be the people you work for, the people who work for you, individuals in another functional area who depend on you for support, your board of directors, your investors, or any other group of people who need your information. Specific audiences may want specific things, but every quantation audience whose approval or decision you need wants:

1. The right amount of data—not too much and not too little

2. Appropriate emphasis on critical information

3. Consistency in form and approach—not only within your report package, but every time a report is delivered, and across all report packages

4. Meaningful and relevant numbers in a self-contained reporting package

5. Your demonstrated respect for their time

If you pay attention to these five universal audience wishes as you design your reports, you will have consistently appreciative audiences.

The Right Amount of Data

The amount of data you produce has profound implications for your relationship with your audience, ...

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