Apr 21, 2009

Making Good Consult Presentations - Part II

This is the second part in a three part series on “What makes a good consultancy presentation?” As part of the series I am interviewing three consultants working with three consultancies and asking them what it takes to create and deliver a good presentation. Young consultants should find these posts really useful.

In today’s post I interview Mr. Ankur Choudhary, an IIM Calcutta graduate who has spent six years in Deloitte & ECS. Let’s begin the interview.

AAP: What is the most important thing in a consult presentation?

Ankur: It is your content. What you say is far more important than how you say it. If I have to give a weightage it would be like this: 60% content, 20% design and 20% delivery. A client can put up with a bad presenter but not with a bad analysis & recommendation.

AAP: Knowing what your client expects is very important. How do you find out what your client expects from your presentation?

Ankur: You need to spend a lot of time understanding the key stakeholders. It can be the MD or the head of department. You need to talk to them, know what they are concerned about and what are the main pain points (key issues) for which you have been hired. Focus the presentation on solving their problem. This will ensure that you don’t have a problem.

AAP: How do you structure a presentation?

How you structure your presentation will flow from how you want to present your findings. You can start with the solution (recommendation) upfront and build arguments to prove it. You can also choose to throw all possible solutions and keep evaluating each one of them as you proceed in the presentation. In the later option, you build the presentation like a story and reveal the plot at the end. Whatever be your method, ensure that connect and flow are logical. The analysis presented in a slide should be connected to the next slide in some logical manner.

AAP: How do you emphasize on the main points of your presentation?

Ankur: You can lay emphasis on certain important points by repetition. You can attach a small summary at the end of each part of your presentation where you emphasize the main points of that section. Finally at the end of the presentation, you can again summarize. This ensures that your main points are driven home in the minds of the client.

AAP: What are the common mistakes which most presenters make?

I would highlight the important mistakes which young consultants should learn to avoid.

1. Not understanding the key stakeholders well. What are their problems and what are they expecting from you?

2. Do not present the same analysis to the same people twice. It’s a waste of precious managerial time.

3. Do not have typo errors in your presentation.

4. Do not use different font sizes and style across the presentation.

5. Do not use clip art. It’s not considered professional.

6. Do not make colourful presentations. It makes the presentation look informal.

AAP: How have consult presentations changed over the last five years?

Ankur: A lot has changed in the past five years. The emphasis has shifted towards content and analysis. Earlier one could get away with a wonderfully delivered presentation. Not anymore. The clients have gone wiser.

AAP: What would be your final advice to young consultants?

Ankur: There are two things you should always follow:

1. Understand the pain points of the stakeholders and orient your work, analysis and presentation towards it.

2. Spend time analyzing and drawing conclusions from data rather that beautifying your slides. Do not spend too much time making your presentation look beautiful. You are paid for the content and not for the design.

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