1. Recognition – Enlisting Others

Visualizing 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

Click to Enlarge


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.

Here is a PowerPoint presentation that 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.

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