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Painting with Numbers: Presenting Financials and Other Numbers So People Will Understand You Hardcover – April 3, 2012


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Painting with Numbers: Presenting Financials and Other Numbers So People Will Understand You + Elements of Business Writing: A Guide to Writing Clear, Concise Letters, Mem + The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118172574
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118172575
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.1 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #384,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Painting with Numbers does an excellent job of covering all the topics that go into effectively communicating with numbers. Bolten’s style of writing is engaging, entertaining, and, most important, effective at delivering his message. This book hasn’t only become a key reference on my bookshelf, but I also now have a comprehensive, textbook-style reference to use when I mentor others on communicating effectively with numbers." (Bill Boehman, CMA, CPA, Strategic Finance Magazine, January 2013)

"There actually are quite a lot of annoying things that accountants and analysts do with spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. By the time I finished the first section of the book, I had thought of five or six experienced accountants at clients or companies I am investigating to whom I would like to give this book." (The Value Examiner, Sept/Oct 2012)

"If you're doing investment pitches, you should read this book. If you're doing a pitch I'm going to see, I want you to have read this book. And if you're a startup CFO, finance lead, bean counter, or presentation slide deck preparer, then you should read this book." (Gust.com, June 2012)

"Do you want to tell a story with numbers? If so, I recommend you run, don't walk, to buy this book." (Life Insurance Selling Magazine, June 2012)

Praise for Painting with Numbers

FROM REVIEWS:

"I highly recommend the very accessible and process based book Painting with Numbers: Presenting Financials and Other Numbers So People Will Understand You by Randall Bolten, to anyone in business, public policy making, analysis, science, or any occupation or profession who works with numbers and must present that data to an audience. This book will improve your numeric and overall presentation skills, boost your career, and create a more successful business."
Wayne Hurlbert, Blog Business World

"Painting with Numbers: Presenting Financials and Other Numbers So People Will Understand You [is] a book that will help you overcome the stigma of presenting numbers and allow you to give more effective presentations involving numbers.... For those in the financial world, Bolten's book is perfect if you're looking to give more successful presentations. It's as simple as that. You will be doing yourself – and your career – a huge favor."
David Domzalski, FinancialBin.com

"Painting with Numbers, by Randall Bolten [is] the best book I've seen on how to present numbers with skill. Randall was a CFO for twenty years in Silicon Valley, so he's got the benefit of seeing all the various ways, shapes, and sizes that people throw numbers around.  He's exactly the right person to learn from when it comes to seeing through the numbers, knowing what they mean, and knowing how to present them more effectively to speak the truth, and to make better decisions ... in work and in life.

It's a book I'm going to recommend to the people I mentor to help them advance their careers and take their game to the next level."
J.D. Meier, MSDN Blogs

FROM SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS:

"I've seen Randy Bolten's presentation about his book, Painting with Numbers(Wiley 2012) twice. Randy focuses on communicating numerical data. As a former CFO in the semiconductor industry, he has faced many a room full of high-level executives, and he has seen many a financial presentation -- some clear, many not so clear. His precepts are down-to-earth tips that anyone can learn to use. Simple, but not trivial. They fit into the half-hour between generating the numbers and publishing the report."
Richard Mateosian, STC Fellow (Society for Technical Communication)

"Randall's relaxed and personable presentation style made it easy to connect with the audience. He brought the definition of "quantation" to life with useful examples of how we, as professional communicators, can more clearly present financial information. I've seen enough bad presentations in my career to know that this information will be helpful to many."
David Gennarelli, Director, Investor Relations, Autodesk, Inc., and President, SF chapter of NIRI (National Investor Relations Institute)

"Great presentation! Randall is an engaging and hugely knowledgeable speaker, who gave us a much-needed wake-up call about the importance of mastering financial communication. Not only was it useful, but thanks to Randall's humor and warmth, everyone enjoyed the ride. I highly recommend him!"
Rikke Jorgensen, VP Programs & Professional Development, International Association of Business Communicators, San Francisco chapter

From the Inside Flap

You have a lot of numbers to report or present, and your readers or listeners will give you only a few minutes to get your point across. Presenting numerical information coherently is a communication skill, and like any other communication skill, how well you do this has a dramatic effect on your audience's understanding of your narrative. Moreover, they will not distinguish between you and the information you are providing when forming conclusions about your professional and personal credibility. With Painting with Numbers, you'll discover how to present numbers clearly and effectively so your ideas and your presentation resonate with your audience. This is a skill that can be learned.

During his nearly twenty years as a CFO in Silicon Valley, author Randall Bolten learned that small changes in the way numbers were presented made a huge difference in how well they were understood. In Painting with Numbers, you'll learn the art of quantation: the act of presenting numbers articulately for the purpose of informing an audience. Misunderstood reports can lead to mass confusion, and even costly errors. Bolten shows you how to package your material into the "right" presentation to deliver an outstanding performance, every time.

Featuring a wide range of quantation examples, Painting with Numbers covers what you need to know to present numbers so that people can understand them quickly and get the maximum meaning from them. This accessible reference will teach you to:

  • Use the Arabic numeral system to your advantage
  • Master the layout to convey your information most effectively
  • Use visual effects to enhance your reports
  • Use software tools, including Excel and PowerPoint, efficiently to drive home your point
  • Make graphs comprehensible and meaningful to your audience
  • Interact with your audience as a peer
  • Maximize the impact of the numbers in your oral presentations
  • Add even more meaning to your quantation by combining ratios and other metrics with the basic report information
  • Get the words right, and not just the numbers
  • Create useful and meaningful management reports
  • See how quantation can clarify public policy issues
  • Appreciate the role quantation plays in your daily life

Painting with Numbers will show you how to communicate financials and tell your story in a way that is clear, comprehensible, concise, elegant, and, most of all, effective.


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Customer Reviews

My definition of a "good" book is one that does what it promises to do.
Joel Orr
I highly recommend this book for anyone who uses Excel or Power Point and makes presentations involving numbers.
JEB
In addition to being practical, the book is infused with Bolton's dry sense of humor.
Donna Kenyon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Virginia on April 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I rarely write reviews but I have to for this book, especially for those like me that may not be numbers people. I have significant proposals to present approx. four to five times a year; they always vary somewhat in the kind of information they provide. However, numbers are ALWAYS included and ALWAYS critical, particularly by the time the project has reached the stage where my input is made. I am the final person to put the information together. This can mean when I am given the numbers to assemble ( and of course they're from the numbers people!) they can arrive in various forms and it is now my job to decipher them and what they are saying and make them coherent to the folks I am presenting to. Not being a 'numbers person' this NEVER fails to be an agonizing exercise. (And I otherwise love putting these proposals together.)

I have just completed a proposal and I used this book to help me. I used only a few of the guidelines and immediately saw a difference (e.g. consistently right justify vs. centering). I now believe that there actually IS a system that is consistent and simple, after all. That there are rules for numbers communication - like we have for grammar, so to speak - that exist in a systematic form!! They are in this book.

It lead me to Bolten's web page [...] and there are some simple ways to understand widely presented numbers there, too. Nifty!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Richard Mateosian on April 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I saw this book in pre-publication form, and I saw Bolten present the material at an STC meeting ([..]). He is an excellent communicator. This is not higher math. This is about the 20 minutes of extra work that might transform your spreadsheet from a blob of numbers into a tool for communicating your numbers-based message.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Donna Kenyon on June 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I found Painting With Numbers by Randall Bolton [...] to be a very interesting how-to guide for presenting financial data in hardcopy printouts, emails or oral presentations. This book describes the communication skills needed to do effective quantation. Bolton defines quantation as "the act of presenting numbers, such as financial results, electronically or in written form for the purpose of informing an audience."

The book's format is user friendly and similar to the visually manageable paragraph formats found on many websites. I have included it with my small group of reference books. It is similar to The Elements of Style or Eats, Shoots, & Leaves. As a CPA candidate who often has to do a lot of research, I particularly appreciated the ability to quickly locate any topic of interest in the book. In addition to being practical, the book is infused with Bolton's dry sense of humor.

Bolton has over 20 years of experience as a CFO. Most interesting, he is not an accountant or a statistician. He has a B.A. in Economics from Princeton and an MBA from Stanford.

Painting With Numbers effectively details the rules and guidelines for communicating with numbers. This helps presenters design financial presentations that mimics the way a person's mind naturally orders numbers, words and concepts. The presenter can then bridge the gap between his/her analysis of the numbers as the technical expert and the audience's understanding of the numbers that support the conclusions. Bolton contends that even a small adjustment to the visual presentation of financials could enhance the audience's trust and reliance on the reports. In turn, this trust could potentially improve the timeliness and efficiency of responses from an organization's decision makers.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Joel Orr on May 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover
My definition of a "good" book is one that does what it promises to do. For "Painting with Numbers," the promise is in the subtitle: It implies I will learn "Presenting Financials and Other Numbers So People Will Understand You." And it taught me just that.

It is neither "high-concept" nor fluffy; rather, it tells me how to create spreadsheets that communicate clearly. Bolten also speaks to content--what does and does not belong in different reports.

All this--and entertainment, too :-) PWN is not only an excellent reference and an illuminating text, but downright fun to read. I cannot imagine a better addition to the bookshelf of any manager or to the gift pile of any graduating MBA. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hannes Lindroos on July 5, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you're new to the world of financial reporting and have never presented numbers or seen a financial report before, then this book might be a good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 7, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is good information, but it's a little too focused on financials.
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By Josephine M. Sinclair on September 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book should be read by anyone who has to tell a story with numbers. Easy and simple to understand if you are not a finance major and don't want to be one.

Randall has a way of showing you how to deliver a creditable message to your audience with winning results. Brilliant.
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