Visualize the Data

Visualize the Data

Financial data can be difficult to understand or simply not very compelling to some audiences. Graphics can enliven the data by revealing trends and relationships that are easier to grasp. This graph shows that over the long term, expenditures are expected to exceed revenues and that this will gradually reduce fund balances below zero.

Fiscal First Aid - Chart 1

Fiscal First Aid Chart 1 thumbnail

Interactivity is Powerful

An interactive presentation of financial condition can:

  • Show changes in key variables and prevent discussion from getting stuck on the value of one variable
  • Allow viewers to participate in choosing scenarios
  • Make the presentation more convincing by showing the magnitude of the problem under a range of possibilities.

This PDF shows how the GFOA’s MuniCast financial modeling service provides interactive presentations.

Credibility in Forecasting is Vital

Forecasts are essential when trying to convince others of the gravity of financial distress. However, even when there is a sense of urgency the recovery leader should ensure the forecast’s credibility before presenting it publicly. A forecast released prematurely can become counterproductive when stakeholders quibble over forecasting techniques and assumptions rather than assess the big picture the forecast is intended to convey.

Consider Games

Financial recovery will require hard choices. A budget simulation “game” can be used to illustrate the difficulty to stakeholders. A budget game challenges participants to allocate limited resources among a portfolio of valuable services. Such an exercise gives participants a better appreciation of the difficult choices that must be made. Here is a simple example for a city budget. Here is a more sophisticated example for the federal budget. A simulation game can quickly give participants a sense of the problem and the consequences of not addressing it.

Continue to Use a Crisis to Your Advantage 

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