Finance Department


Date of this Version


Document Type



Journal of Actuarial Practice 10 (2002), pp. 5-62


Copyright 2002 Absalom Press


In this paper, we discuss techniques for developing effective communication skills, focusing in particular on technical writing, the use of graphics, and presentation. The key principles of effective communication that we propose to actuaries are as follows:

• Identify your audience and consider their needs and abilities;

• Focus on substantive content;

• Choose appropriate communication tools;

• Use language that is simple, concrete, and familiar;

• Integrate text, numbers, and graphics;

• Respond to information complexity creatively.

We focus in particular on the use of graphics as a communications tool as they are an efficient and potentially highly effective means of conveying information. We also describe several common errors in graphic construction-and how to correct them-using examples from the business world.