FinancialViz Workshops: Dataviz workshops for business professionals so they can create clear visual messages of financial data in Excel
Overloaded and confusing presentations of financial data prevent executives from getting the insights required to make decisions that will make the business more profitable and successful. Clear visual messages of financial data give decision makers the insights they can understand and act on.
Almost all data in businesses is ultimately financial data because it affects the bottom line. If you are in finance, operations, logistics, manufacturing, project management, or marketing, your data can be effectively presented as visual messages.
Take 3 minutes and watch how explaining the difference between the previous forecast and the current forecast can be presented so much more effectively than a table of numbers (the default we see too often). As you’ll see, you don’t need anything more than Excel and PowerPoint, the tools you already use.
If you’ve looked at bringing in a dataviz workshop for your team of business professionals, you will likely be better off with a FinancialViz workshop instead. Here’s how my customized workshops are different from most dataviz workshops.
|Dataviz workshops||FinancialViz workshop|
|Data used||Survey, sports, and demographic data||Financial data and examples that relate directly to your business|
|Focus of visual examples||Beauty (in fact they have an Information is Beautiful Awards ceremony each year)||Clear messages that decision makers can understand and act on|
|Communication focus||Storytelling and telling stories from your data||Communicating the key insights that will help the organization reach its goals|
|Tools used to create visuals||Programming languages and web-based tools that require you to upload your confidential data to unknown servers||Only standard Microsoft Office tools like Excel and PowerPoint|
|Practice during the sessions||Often only on paper to remain tool agnostic||Hands-on practice in Excel so attendees can apply the techniques right away|
|Data used in the examples||Publicly available data sources||I sign an NDA so attendees see examples with their own data|
|Customization||Selected generic examples from media or social science||I select relevant real-world examples from past corporate work and prepare makeovers of your existing visuals|
|Facilitator||Could be one of the team of trainers in the firm||I am the only one who delivers sessions so you always get the expert at the front of the room|
Speaker, author, consultant
To ensure an executive instantly understands the insight from the analysis, I think there are three steps you need to take: 1) Select the right chart for the message, 2) Build the chart in Excel so it is flexible and easy to update, and 3) Use the chart.
Here are the topics I can cover in each step during a workshop.
Select the right chart for the message
- Use a structured approach to determine the insight executives are looking for
- Show real-world examples to build a larger inventory of charts the participants can select from (beyond the basic ones that are common to everyone)
- Use a structured approach for deciding on the best chart based on the insight it communicates (not based on the data or relationship)
- How to customize the chosen chart for a specific situation
Build the chart in Excel so it is flexible and easy to update
- Why structuring the chart worksheet into three sections is crucial
- Demonstration of expert-level techniques in Excel, such as: advanced labelling, invisible elements, and combination/multiple charts (there is no VBA or programming to learn, only the built-in functions and techniques are used)
- Use a parameterization approach so the chart is flexible (which Excel functions to use to create a chart that adapts to the values)
- How to utilize multiple data series so the chart automatically handles different situations
- Specific chart construction techniques
- The advantage of creating & using chart worksheet templates to build a library of charts that you can quickly adapt to different situations
Use the chart
- Understand the different formats you can use to export/copy a chart
- Understand the destination for the chart and how to take advantage of opportunities and get around limitations (especially for PowerPoint)
- How to update the data each time period so the chart automatically updates
- How to re-use the chart for other data without significant effort
- Methods to adjust the chart to different numbers of data points without breaking the chart in the process
Once we have a conversation about your specific needs, we will decide on the exact topics and timing for the sessions. The most popular delivery format is a series of 90-minute virtual sessions for up to 20 people. Every session is customized to the topics your team needs and uses examples of their own data so it is relevant to their world.
This is a hands-on advanced level session with the expectation that attendees practice the techniques demonstrated. I will use Office 365 for Windows for demonstrations. As long as the attendees bring a laptop with Office 2013 or higher for Windows, or Office 2016 or later for Mac they will be fine. Attendees need to have intermediate level Excel skills in general, and be familiar with creating graphs in Excel.
These courses count as verifiable continuing education hours for Canadian CPAs, so you improve your financial reporting and check off the continuing education requirement at the same time.
Call me at 905-510-4911 (Eastern North America time zone) or email me to start discussing how a FinancialViz workshop can help your team create clear visual messages of financial data.