Visual reporting: Presentations your clients won’t forget

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Have you ever brought what you felt was an incredible presentation to your client, only to be met with glassy eyes and half-hearted nods? Or perhaps you gave them a full arsenal of information in a financial report, but they kept returning with more and more questions? It can be frustrating to put so much thought and effort into giving your clients the information they need but find it just doesn’t have the necessary impact.

What is it that causes such a disconnect? The answer could be something as simple as adding more visuals to your report. While you may not need visuals to understand the financial analysis, it turns out that humans are much more likely to comprehend and retain information presented in a visual way. Here’s what you can do to give clients better financial reports and why visuals are so critical.

1. Simplify information. Although you may be very comfortable with numbers and are more analytical than creative, that’s not always how your clients will be. You’ll find that many of your clients don’t think the same way you do and will need your analysis presented a little differently. In fact, whether people consider themselves more analytically minded or more creative, scientists have found that most people’s brains process information better when visuals are used. Not only is 90 percent of the information that goes to the brain visual, but the brain also processes visuals faster than text. Adding color to your visuals is a bonus too — color increases comprehension and retention by more than 70 percent.

2. Give clients a simpler picture. Sometimes, less is more — even when it comes to financial reports. You want to give your clients all the relevant information so they can make wise decisions, but they may feel that they are getting a firehose instead of a glass of water. Visuals can help you present a simpler yet detailed picture. It’s important to not just throw in visual elements to check that feature off your list. Instead, use personalized graphs, charts, photos and more to lead your clients through their financial analysis. The way you present the information will affect their understanding and interpretation, so give them the best picture possible.

3. Know your audience. Personalize the information for your audience so they get the most relevant analysis. Your presentation will be much different depending on who in the company needs the information. As you are toning down your firehose of information, focus on what each person needs to know. Your visuals should help you tell the right story for your client, so adapt them for your audience. Don’t let the wrong data or visual obstruct the crucial financial information your client needs to keep building a strong business.

Get your creative juices flowing as you prepare financial reports for your clients. You aren’t just painting a pretty picture for them to enjoy; you’re using visuals to create a story that will be easier to understand and put to use as clients make decisions for their businesses.

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Financial reporting Data visualization Client strategies