May 5, 2009

Make Good Consult Presentations - Part III

This is the third and final post on "Making Good Consulting Presentations". As part of the series I have interviewed consultants who are working with large consult companies in India. Young consultants should find these posts really helpful.

In today's post I interview Mr. Peri Vishwanath, an IIM Ahmedabad graduate who has worked for 8 years as a Management Consultant. Let us begin.

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

Peri: Communicate your message sharply. If you are in the early stages of the project and are presenting the problem as you see it, do not go and say "The problem is that sales are low." After having figured out the problem go ahead and define it as sharply as possible. Clarity and sharpness of the message holds the key.

AAP: How do you prepare the presentation slides? Do you start by opening the software and typing straight into it?

Peri: It is better to prepare on paper first. Most people do this initial stage on PowerPoint and end up losing time and also the bigger picture. If you are presenting as a team it becomes even more important to sit, brainstorm and decide the flow and key messages/headlines on paper. Once you are clear on the flow, the rest is easy.

AAP: Time management is always a challenge. How should one manage time during slide preparation?

Peri: If you prepare the structure on paper that will save a lot of time for you. Sticking to a template is a second way to save lots of time. A lot of time can get wasted in deciding on font, color scheme and template design. To thwart this every consult company has a basic guideline which makes the job easier. One should also avoid spending too much time jazzing up the presentation.

AAP: What should one do at the start of the presentation?

Peri: You should state the purpose of the meeting in clear terms. Also mention the expectations from that meeting/discussion so that the client and you are on the same page. Many presenters start by cracking a joke to lighten the mood and establish a connect. You should try out what suits your style and how well you know your client.

AAP: How should one use Charts & Graphs in a presentation?

Peri: Charts and graphs are an indispensable part of every presentation. While using charts and graphs take note of the following:

1. Give an explanatory title
2. Mention the source of data
3. State the period (monthly/annual data)
4. Font in the chart should be legible
5. Capture the key message of the chart in a text box on the slide

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

Peri: Just be clear on the 'storyline' and remember that every presentation is a sales pitch. You are out there to sell your ideas.

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