If you have been asked to present your budget workings to an management committee, management group or work colleagues, here are some basic guidelines to follow on:
It really is assumed these days that all budget workings are created with spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel. If you feel you need more skills in this area click here.
While you can present your budget workings by handing a print-out of your spreadsheet workings to all meeting attendees, it is better if you can connect an LCD Projector to a laptop computer and present your spreadsheets directly on a screen in the meeting room. Using your mouse pointer, you can then direct the gaze of meeting attendees to exactly what you want them to see.
One of the principal benefits of projecting your spreadsheet workings on to a screen is that it allows "live" changes to be made and everyone can view the result. For example, if a meeting attendee suggest a increase in membership fees by $2 per person, you can make that change and see an immediate result. There are some interesting techniques that you can employ in your Microsoft Excel file to enhance "live" changes (see "Creating a Financial Model" below).
You should still, however, create and print out a "workbook" of your budget workings that meeting attendees can peruse and take away for more in depth analysis later.
If you are unfamiliar with connecting an LCD Projector to a computer, don't worry, there is every likelihood that some of your audience can help.
Divide your presentation into two parts. The first part is where you mostly speak and you direct the attention of your audience to what you believe are the most important aspect of the budget you have prepared. This part of your presentation should be no longer than 15 minutes in duration. It is most important you don't speak for long otherwise people will "turn off". Try not to present the budget as a finished work but instead as a work in progress. Try to use language such as "If we agree on these membership fees then revenue raised will be . . . " or "If payments to coaches remain at the same level . . . " This type of language will not seem to your audience that you have made the decisions.
In the potentially longer second part of your presentation, you should invite questions and discussion. Basically you are searching for loopholes, inadequacies and errors in your workings, and if none are found, then you are searching for a consensus that the budget should be adopted and signed off.
It is very easy to provide charts using Microsoft Excel but be warned that, although they look impressive, charts can just add to the information overload. Use a chart, if you need, to show a trend that has been happening over the years but otherwise think twice on the value of any chart you might create, and how long it will take to present.
It is always likely that your audience will have a range of abilities and motivation to wade through the figures and workings that you present. Focus the attention of your audience on the some of the key issues that your budget workings present rather than churning through large sets of numbers that no-one will remember. Although a budget presentation is very important, you always need to acknowledge the limited time availability of meeting attendees.
Each key issue may take you 1-2 minutes to present and therefore you will be only able to present a handful of issues in the first part of your presentation. You can, of course, invite discussion in the second part so that you can elaborate on the issues you presented, or introduce further issues not previously presented.
Here are some suggested key issues to focus on:
Your presentation of major changes and how programs and services will be affected, will take up most of the first part of our presentation. This is what your meeting attendees will want to know. Their immediate concerns will not be the great length of time you spent producing the budget, but how they personally may be affected. This is why your time, as the presenter, should be focused on what the budget means rather than trying to explain the intricacies of your workings and identifying all items of income and expenditure.
The ideal situation is that the Microsoft Excel file you create and take into your budget meeting is an interactive tool or Financial Model that enables "live" changes to be made to the budget during the meeting, and every one can instantly see the result. This is not difficult to achieve provided you are aware of Excel skills such as "Linking Cells" and IF Functions. Furthermore, the design and layout of the worksheets in your Excel workbook will need to facilitate the interactivity.