School Business Affairs June 2020 SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | JUNE 2020 13 the community as another means of sharing information that better meets the needs of diverse learners. Further differentiating this informa- tion for various audiences provides a visual format that simplifies difficult- to-understand financial information. Simplifying the information may help the audience better understand it and may motivate them to look for more information, which we provide online in links to additional, more detailed resources. Users can navigate these layers of information at their own pace to better under- stand it. These visual formats and links to videos are ideal for sharing on social media, where we find more and more of our audience daily. 5. Remember the internal audience! This final tip may be the most important. The internal stakehold- ers are the public face of the district, and the community expects them to know what is happening in the schools. Within this internal audi- ence are all sorts of learning styles and communication preferences; therefore, all of the content created for the board of education, the tax- payers, or the community at large Figure 1. Financial reports were marked up and presented at the board meeting. 3. Link the finances to the mission. I firmly believe that the business office should use every opportunity to tell the district’s story when com- municating financial information. For example, the annual meeting budget booklet traditionally con- tained only the financial informa- tion required by the state, including the budget to be approved annually at a meeting of local taxpayers. We updated the format to give the booklet a fresh look. The document presented the same information that had been included in the past, but it was now enhanced to tell a story (see Figure 3). Gradually the business office shifted the focus from presenting only the required financial informa- tion to also including information from the district’s instructional departments. This approach began the transition from what had been a strictly finance-focused annual meet- ing of taxpayers to one that shares with the community our efforts to fulfill our core mission of helping children learn. 4. Simplify and present information in a visual format. The next step in differentiating com- munications came with the increased access we had to technology, which made it easier to share informa- tion visually. Before each board presentation of the upcoming year’s budget, long-range financial projection, or other major financial information to be shared with a wider audience, I recorded a video and uploaded it to my YouTube channel. (A personal benefit of making the video is that it gave me an opportunity to rehearse my board presentation and to ensure that I emphasized and clearly com- municated the major points.) The videos mirrored the board presentation and were available to Figure 2. Graphical representation of information contained within the financial reports presented at the board meeting.