May 19, 2010

Creating the ‘wow’ factor in presentations (Part 1 of 3)

This is a guest post by Rangarajan V, a consultant at AT Kearney. This is the first post in a series of 3 posts.

Cheetahs are capable of running at incredible speeds of up to 100 kmph. Why?

Answer: Necessity – Over millions of years, cheetahs have had to become faster and faster to be able to catch increasingly swift prey. When one’s survival is going to depend on a particular skill, one tends to become better at it.

The same is the case with presentations. The more presentations you are required to make, the better you become at it. Ask any consultant and he/she will tell you. Consultants spend most of their waking lives preparing and delivering presentations to varied audiences. Making a presentation to a VP - Product Development head is not the same as making one to a Brand manager or a Sales head or a CEO. But the underlying objective is the same – to impress the audience, to make them say ‘wow’!

Easier said than done.

How does one create the wow factor in a presentation?

It is never easy. Nor is it ever guaranteed that the audience will react the way you want them to. But one can improve one’s chances by paying careful attention to each the following aspects:
1. Thinking about what you want to say

Spend a lot of time thinking about what you want to say through the presentation. There may be a lot of thoughts in your mind, but the audience can get confused if you put too many thoughts into one presentation. Hence, simplify your thoughts into a few key messages that you think the audience needs to be left with. In most situations, your key messages would need to cover two things.

  • The necessity for taking action
  • What is the recommended action
Remember, making a presentation is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. The end almost always is further action, or ‘next steps’ as consultants love to call it! Even if you think that a presentation is just a status report or a routine monthly sales analysis or a project report, remember that managers in today’s world are always interested in the results or the action implications of what you have to say.

These days, the ‘wow factor’ comes increasingly from providing the audience simple and effective thoughts and ‘calls for action’. Thinking about the exact messages that you want to convey is a crucial first step.

About the Author: Rangarajan has been a consultant for over 4 years with A.T. Kearney, a leading management consultancy firm that advises CXO level executives on matters of strategic and operational importance. Prior to joining A.T. Kearney, he did his post-graduation from IIM Ahmedabad. He has worked across engagements spanning strategy development, cost benchmarking, process improvements and financial planning for sectors as diverse as telecom, oil & gas, financial services, petrochemicals, automotives, textiles etc. More relevantly, he has given multiple presentations to the Boards/CEOs/CXOs/Senior management of many leading Indian companies and brings a wealth of practical experience in handling tough presentation situations.

Cheetah Image Source: Bernie Condon


  1. Thanks for the Post.

    Each presentation is different, and should be customized to the audience.

    It is also important, as the author pointed out, to have a call for action. Many presenters forget this.


  2. Excellent points. It is so important to prepare and think about what you want to accomplish no matter how small the meeting