Accountants need to be communicators not reporters

Here’s a tip public sector finance professionals in particular, but it could be useful to people in the private sector, too. CIPFA includes communication and impact as one of the key competencies for public financial management professionals. That means developing skills in telling stories with financial data. As luck would have it, late in 2022 the World Bank published A Guide to Data Storytelling in the Public Sector. The opening chapter begins with this quotation from Hal Varian, Chief Economist at Google.

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Financial reports have not changed in 30 years

When I began working as a trainee accountant there were very few computers in the office and they were not on individuals’ desks. They were on tables because to be used on a shared basis. Most people in the Accountancy team did not use them at all. They used calculators and created spreadsheets manually on A3-sized analysis paper. And when they had to write a report or a letter or memo they did it by hand.

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Here’s a quick way to makeover your slidedecks

Last week I wrote a post recommending you use images instead of bullet points in your presentations. That’s the best thing to do but it can take quite a while to find images and make the changes. A quicker fix that will avoid slides with lots of bullet points is to spread them out. What you need to do first is put each text item onto its own slide. This allows it to be in a larger font.

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Are you using a 3 act structure in your presentations?

You’ve probably read lots of guidance that you should use storytelling in your presentations but do you know how to apply that? How can you use stories when you are presenting budgets or financial results?

Well, you could use the 3-act structure. You structure your presentation into 3 parts:

The set-up ➡️ The confrontation ➡️ The resolution

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Tell your reader what they are looking at

Using charts in your documents could save you and your reader hundreds of words.

But your chart is a wasted opportunity if the reader doesn’t get your message from it. Or worse, skips past without even looking at it.

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Free resources for your presentations

Your presentation will be more memorable is you use more images and less text in your slides. But whether the images are photographs or charts or diagrams, they need to be high quality. Don’t use clip art, or low resolution stock photos with watermarks on them. I guess most of the time you have zero budget to acquire media to use in your presentations, so here is my list of resources that are FREE.

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Fix the line length

Here’s an instant tip to make your document easier to read. Set the margins and font-size so that the length of each line is around 65 characters.

That’s two and a half alphabets.

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How to make your documents look right every time

After you’ve written a document in Word do you find the text does not look right? Are there unexpected line breaks or extra-wide spaces between some words?

You need to check your invisibles!

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Use ChatGPT for inspiration rather than creation

ChatGPT is “like a brainstorming partner who is tireless but not very smart.”

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3 tips to write faster

Here are three ways to write faster and make fewer mistakes.

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