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Slide Makeover #86: Focusing the message for variance analysis

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Finance (and other) professionals often analyze current performance compared to past performance or plans to look for variances. Too often they copy the spreadsheet onto a slide. This slide makeover shows how you can focus the message with visuals when you are discussing variances.

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Slide Makeover #86: Focusing the message for variance analysis

  1. 1. Slide Makeover #86: Focusing the message for variance analysis Based on Dave Paradi’s ideas at www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com
  2. 2. Finance (and other) professionals often analyze current performance compared to past performance or plans to look for variances. This is done in spreadsheets and results in slides like this…
  3. 3. Expense Variance Analysis I spared you the pain of seeing the entire spreadsheet on the slide, but you get the point.
  4. 4. Where should the audience look when they see a wall of numbers? How can the presenter get the audience to focus on the few items that need attention? And how can the presenter prevent a question on one of the numbers that is not really relevant to the key messages?
  5. 5. The visual needs to focus the audience on the key variances, both favorable and unfavorable, that require management attention. By building the slide piece by piece, the presenter has control of the message. Start with this slide.
  6. 6. 16932 50522 16374 11706 -55496 -11445 -6737 55712 -43705 Total Employee Comp. Benefits & Taxes Communications Legal Prof. & Misc Services Rating Services Other Favorable Other Unfavorable Greatest non-revenue expense variances to plan due to employee related issues Vacancies: VP, Manager, 4 sups, 2 programmers, etc. Employee labor dispute. Expected to continue into 2016 Credit card fees Phone Co. refund
  7. 7. The first slide has the headline summarizing the message the presenter wants the audience to leave with. On the graph, the presenter is showing the total variance to plan to give initial context. The next slide is …
  8. 8. 16932 50522 16374 11706 -55496 -11445 -6737 55712 -43705 Total Employee Comp. Benefits & Taxes Communications Legal Prof. & Misc Services Rating Services Other Favorable Other Unfavorable Greatest non-revenue expense variances to plan due to employee related issues Vacancies: VP, Manager, 4 sups, 2 programmers, etc. Employee labor dispute. Expected to continue into 2016 Credit card fees Phone Co. refund
  9. 9. Focus first on the favorable variances. In this case, expenses that are below plan. Some explanation is helpful for the audience. Especially where that favorable number may turn around later in the year as things change (ie. vacancies are filled). Next …
  10. 10. 16932 50522 16374 11706 -55496 -11445 -6737 55712 -43705 Total Employee Comp. Benefits & Taxes Communications Legal Prof. & Misc Services Rating Services Other Favorable Other Unfavorable Greatest non-revenue expense variances to plan due to employee related issues Vacancies: VP, Manager, 4 sups, 2 programmers, etc. Employee labor dispute. Expected to continue into 2016 Credit card fees Phone Co. refund
  11. 11. Now we get to the unfavorable variances. Again, some explanation is helpful, especially where the variance may continue to grow in the future (ie. ongoing legal dispute). Executives tend to focus more on unfavorable variances, so expect more discussion here. Finally …
  12. 12. 16932 50522 16374 11706 -55496 -11445 -6737 55712 -43705 Total Employee Comp. Benefits & Taxes Communications Legal Prof. & Misc Services Rating Services Other Favorable Other Unfavorable Greatest non-revenue expense variances to plan due to employee related issues Vacancies: VP, Manager, 4 sups, 2 programmers, etc. Employee labor dispute. Expected to continue into 2016 Credit card fees Phone Co. refund
  13. 13. All of the other favorable and unfavorable variances are grouped and shown so that the total variance at the top is fully broken down. There is no need to show all the details, focus only on the variances that require attention. Make the spreadsheet available online if someone wants to see all the numbers.
  14. 14. So to answer the questions I posed at the start.
  15. 15. Where should the audience look when they see a wall of numbers? Don’t force them to figure it out. Use a visual instead of a wall of numbers.
  16. 16. How can the presenter get the audience to focus on the few items that need attention? Only show them what you need them to know. Group the other values so the math is correct, but leave the details to a supplemental document you provide afterward.
  17. 17. How can the presenter prevent a question on one of the numbers that is not really relevant to the key messages? Reveal only the key messages one at a time using multiple slides or animation so the presenter controls the message.
  18. 18. Before After Lessons: 1. Use visuals instead of spreadsheets. 2. Reveal the key messages one at a time to control the discussion. 3. Only show the figures that require action. Group the rest and provide a detailed document later. Quick recap: More makeovers available at www.SlideMakeoverVideos.com
  19. 19. If you would like me to help your team create presentations that have a clear message with focused content and effective visuals, get in touch: P: 905-510-4911 E: Dave@ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com W: www.ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com

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