Powerful Powerpoints – Top tips for making great presentations

We’ve all been stuck in seemingly never ending presentations before….but don’t let that happen to your audience when you’re up at the front! Prevent ‘death by Powerpoint’ now and take heed of the tips below…

1) Firstly, let’s start out with a nice video on how to spice it up

2)  A massive 71 little tips here on how to smarten up your presentations and make them more professional and effective.

3)  10 tips to prevent ‘death by Powerpoint’

4) Three blog posts from Consultant’s Mind about how to make your Powerpoints better. Definitely advice to follow as the blogger is indeed a management consultant.

5) A good range of topics covered by Management Consulting News here with 7 articles and 2 podcasts via interviews with consultants and their advice.

6)  An Agony Aunt response to the often asked question ‘How can I make my powerpoint amazing?’ Includes the 5 rules of Powerpoints which if followed should be a good preventative measure against boredom.

7) This is a really good blog post geared for consultants with plenty of pictures to illustrate the differences in style that changes can make

8) Interview with consultant David Tracy about how to make a good professional consulting presentation

9) Another consultant interview about driving the message you are trying to put across

10) Yes, this is a Powerpoint on how to make a good Powerpoint, focusing on the style used by consultants

11) Ten tips from Strategy Expert here and the website also includes free Powerpoint templates

12)  Some really useful tips here for if you are giving a presentation to Senior Management – the audience of your presentation will dramatically affect what you should and should not emphasise in your Powerpoint.

13) Wondering what models you should put in your Powerpoint to display your data? This series of more technical posts gives a list of useful templates used by consultants e.g. SWOT analysis, 5 Forces Framework etc. Includes McKinsey and BCG templates and tips on how to use them

14) 10 more tips on how to make your Powerpoint stand out

15) A few short tips here but aimed at consultants

Finally, check out the previous post on the amazing new presentation tool Prezi to zazz up your presentations!


21 Articles to Help Improve Your Pitch

Sales skills are so important in both freelance and company consulting in order to attract new business. For the clients you have secured, they will expect high class pitches to explain the solutions you are offering. If your pitch flops with a poor performance, you can be sure you won’t be on the recruiting list for the best projects in the future. But if you can make yourself the most persuasive and convincing public speaker with the best structure and control of a presentation, no matter who you are pitching to, you will be an indispensable member of any team that is being recruited.

So have a read of the following 20 articles and improve those all-important skills!

1) To start off, if you can pitch yourself in 60 seconds then you can probably pitch anything. Craft your perfect ‘elevator pitch’ with ManagementConsulted’s 10 do’s and don’ts

2) Following the arc of a consulting project from pitch to strategy to execution, consultant Benjamin Estes offers some good consulting specific advice

3) A really great help sheet from a consultant at Microsoft on how to develop, perform and follow up on a pitch effectively and the questions you should be asking when writing it

4) How do you give the perfect pitch? This is the most comprehensive yet concise set of sheets on how to do just that, including the Trojan Horse and Pizza analogies. In pdf format to print off easily too

5) It’s not just your words but also your body that can speak during a presentation. Forbes lists the top 5 ways to improve your body language during a pitch

6) The Harvard Business Review offers an interesting article here on how to ensure your pitch is pigeon-holed into the correct corrective box – the key is to make the client feel like a collaborator in the process rather than being dictated to

7) Building a rapport with the audience is so important in a pitch. IBM salesman Shamus Brown gives his top 5  Sales presentation tips here He has a persuasive way of writing down his pitch on his website to sell his Persuasive Skills CD (for the princely sum of $297)

8) A great top 10 list on how to give the best pitch from CNBC’s research taken after talking to investors and entrepreneurs.

9) Another list of top 10 pitching tips, though this one includes how appearance can make a difference as well

10) A short little article by the Institute of Management Consultants USA on how to make your pitch stand out against all the rest with titles that hook you – and this article title ‘Management Consulting is Like Sex’ certainly does it as a good example!

11) How do you win more clients to ensure a pipeline of business? Follow these 8 tips!CpDNy 

12) What about the client’s point of view on a pitch? Based from experience as a VP at an ad agency but still relevant for consulting, here are the top tips from the client’s perspective on what they look for in a pitch

13) Don’t think you’re selling emphasis is strong enough? Take a look at Selling Power’s sales management top 10 tips  

14) Looking for a simple template for how you can get the important part of a pitch across? The sentence starters for the top 6 tips here will be useful 

15) Are you a consultant branching into freelance work and looking for your first clients? Take a look at this entrepreneur tips page to bag the clients and generate business with your pitch

16) Although based at website SEO consultants, these detailed 17 tips from the client perspective here can be applied to any sales pitch

17) It’s not about bragging about all the success stories of your past – new clients will want to know how you can help their particular business. Take a look at Rick Conlow’s simple 5 steps to writing a good sales pitch

18) The Guardian offers some good advice on creating a good pitch here and emphasising how important all aspects of it are to the overall performance, from the brief to the goodbye

19) Based on the experience of small businesses pitching to investors but the principles remain the same in this New York Times blog post 

20) Pitching isn’t just about the presentation but also about the proposal itself and how well written it is. Follow Marketer/Advertiser Brandon Eley’s advice here on how to ensure your proposal and pitch are up to scratch

21) And finally, Wikihow actually has some good consultant-specific pitching tips to gain and nurture business


Top Tips for Motivating your Team

Being a good project manager is not simply about having a tight grip on the reins and chasing up colleagues to ensure work is done correctly and on time. It’s also about motivating the entire team to do a good job and care about the project and its outcomes. Consultancies are often full of bold personalities and so with a variety of potential clashing rivals, sometimes things can be difficult. But a good project manager will remain cool under pressure and ensure that everyone is united under the same goal – to solve the financial problems facing the company.

Take a look at the following 10 websites for helpful advice…

1) Loads of advice from Techrepublic on things you can do straight away to improve your team relations

2) A great printable pdf explaining how to be a great manager that can motivate their team

3) TLNT (Talent Management – HR) has a great article here on how to keep motivating people, even when times get stressful

4) 10 simople ideas from LinkedIn explaining how to keep up encouragement and playing to the strengths of individual team members

5) Take this Mindtools test to see what kind of project manager you are and how to improve your motivation techniques

6) A useful post to take heed of in the current economic climate – how to ensure motivation within a team is maintained cheaply

7) List of ten simple rules to keep your team engaged – including beer time and friday fun!

8) If you are working for a large consultancy firm with offices across the world, your team might not even be all in one place. This article explains how to manage an offshore team

9) Quite an academic article about unlocking motivation in staff – worth a read though as it is simply explained but using sociological theories

10) A great list of 14 ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ in management – take heed and don’t make the common mistakes!

Top Tips for Running Effective Workshops

Management Consultants not only travel and do analytics on Excel – they need to run good workshops to explain to their clients the new proposals that will turn the company around. This isn’t just a lecture and presentation, it’s about getting the people involved and showing them what actions they need to take.

And for those higher up in the business, you may be running workshops for those newbie graduates that have just joined, training them to be a consultant. This will require plenty of workshops…so how do you run the best one you can?

The following 10 websites will show you how!

1) Workshop wizard Ross Simmonds gives five workshop tactics here to ensure your audience is engaged

2) A great detailed post from Mindtools about preparing a successful workshop, including links to other useful related pages on the site

3) A detailed article on the website – lots of ideas on how to conduct workshops effectively

4) The ‘before, during, after’ of the workshop planning process

5) Bored of endless meetings? Why not throw a workshop instead!

6) Running an innovation workshop to come up with ideas and solutions with stakeholders? This post, aimed at IT consultants but still relevant, offers 10 ideas to ensure the outcomes are worthwhile

7) Another blog post giving advice for workshop planning to ensure goals are reached

8)  Sometimes find it difficult to get everyone engaged and talking to each other? How do you differentiate a workshop from a lecture? A useful document here full of ice-breakers to create a working workshop

9) Struggling to get the audience working together? Use some of these team building templates to help

10) 10 ideas on how to conduct a Business Improvement workshop

And if you’re looking for more, read ‘How to Run a Great Workshop: The Complete Guide to Designing and Rubbing Brilliant Workshops and Meetings’ by Nikki Highmore Sims

Using a Logical Framework Approach

A ‘Logical Framework Approach’ is usually used in consultancy projects to give them coherence across the ‘horizontal’ and ‘vertical’ aspects of the problem at hand. So what is ‘horizontal logic’? It’s kind of what it says in the title really, a logical progression across a horizontal platform. So this could be picking up on the horizontal progression of your slides, to the structure of your research in search of the answer to a particular question. And ‘vertical logic’ is following upwards across the hierarchy of priorities you are trying to address.

This can be put into a ‘Logical Framework Matrix’ or ‘LogFrame’ like the one below

strategic project management   logframe white

The cartoon gets it pretty right in terms of the simple idea of the LogFrame approach. Check out the full blog post here and see how strategic project management can work better if using this structure.

For more general uses of horizontal and vertical logic, take a look at the following websites… A simple slideshare presentation here on making good presentations that conform to horizontal and vertical logic. When presenting your research findings and solutions to the client, it is important to ensure that they are understanding what you are saying. The audience may be comprised of top CEOs and stakeholders, or might be a broad range of workers from across the company. Regardless, using horizontal logic in your presentations will ensure that the key points will be retained by the audience and taken away to reflect on.  For a more thorough guide through the Logical Framework Approach, check out this 34 slide document (which you can also download). Includes plenty of diagrams. A good step by step guide to ensuring you fulfil the LogFrame. This help sheet can also be downloaded in pdf format at the bottom of the page. A more complicated diagram but the article is succinct in explaining that the LogFrame stage is important in ensuring your whole team knows what they are trying to achieve. This is an overview of Chapter 16 in the book ‘The Fast Forward MBA in Project Management’ and explains the IF and THEN arrows well that are shown in the graphic above. Includes a basic table template to work from.

Terry Schmidt also explains this with a thorough example in the following Youtube tutorial: This is a pdf document created by the University of Wolverhampton showing how to create a Logical Framework Approach. Includes a summary of the pros and cons of using this for a project. This is an interesting document which may be useful to browse through – made by the Government of Serbia, it explains how the Logical Framework Approach can be used to answer governmental questions. It is meant as a user guide to the project management cycle even though the topics covered may be slightly out of the business consultant’s field.  Similarly to the document above, this is a based on NGOs using an LFA platform to ensure projects are carried out well and to prove to stakeholders and donors that objectives are being achieved. However, the report shows that there are aspects of the LFA framework that have drawbacks.


Storytelling in Business

‘Storytelling’ has become a buzzword in the business world as a way in which to engage audiences. In a world where we are all confronted by so much information and a multitude of pictures and videos every day, it has become more important than ever to ensure that presentations are led by a person with the charismatic storytelling skills to keep the audience hooked. When a consultant has to pitch solutions about complicated financial problems, it is so important to ensure the clients are wanting to listen rather than switching off as soon as the ‘death by powerpoint’ begins. Hard facts, bullet points and directives are never going to be as memorable as a good story.

Take a look at this short animation explaining a case study from Malaysian Airlines on how storytelling engaged the audience and created change within the business.

Business storytelling experts Gabrielle Dolan and Yamini Naidu (see book below) explain that there are four forms of public speaking which can be plotted on a graph of Purpose against Engagement – The Avoider, The Reporter, The Joker and the The Inspirer.


The Avoider is neither engaging nor useful, The Reporter gives too much factual information and The Joker simply looks for a laugh. The Inspirer is therefore the most important and sought after speaker as they can give all the relevant information whilst ensuring that the audience is engaged and remembers the pitch.

Needless to say, it is really important to get your skills into the ‘Inspirer’ box and will make you an indispensable in any team. So take a look at the following resources for some helpful tips to improve your skills and reach that standard…. In this good article from The Harvard Business Review, Bronwyn Fryer talks to screenwriting lecturer Robert McKee on how skills used for writing engaging scripts for films are equally pertinent in the commercial business sector. An excellent article on how to start incorporating storytelling into your pitches including a list of six different types of story formats to use A great list of 42 videos on business storytelling and how to influence audiences. Includes TEDx talks which are always very insightful and lecturers from Stanford Graduate School of Business among others. Shawn Callahan from Anecdote, a public speaking workshop company, has put together this slideshow on how stories and quickfire Powerpoints can hugely help a presentation Microsoft offers seven articles here on ‘Storytelling in the Boardroom’ and how to make your presentations slick and efficient.

Of course books are always a good source of storytelling so take a look at the following recommended titles:

‘Business Storytelling for Dummies’ by Karen Dietz and Lori Silverman

Aimed at beginners, this is a recommended Dummies book covering several different business areas from compelling graphics to motivating people into action and tailoring stories to specific circumstances. Includes some real-life examples and a template in the appendix.

‘The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling: Mastering the Art and Discipline of Business Narrative’ by Stephen Denning

A great book for those in a leadership position about how to use storytelling to motivate your colleagues. Full of examples and tips on technique, this is the ‘how-to guide’. Denning writes some of the top points here:

‘Story telling in Business’ by Janis Forman

Recommended by Stanford University Press and winner of the 2013 Outstanding Academic Title Award. By conducting over 140 interviews with CEOs in a variety of companies, Forman gets to the heart of why this is becoming such an important part of presentations in today’s business world.

‘Hooked: How leaders inspire, engage and connect with Storytelling’ by Gabrielle Dolan and Yamini Naidu

They’ve spent 10 years together running leadership and public speaking workshops and this is their definitive guide to how to get people ‘hooked’ on your presentation. You can download the first chapter here along with some other useful papers:

‘Lead with a Story: A Guide to crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince and Inspire’ by Paul Smith

A business focused approach to ensure that clients are persuaded and engaged by your use of stories within your presentations.

‘Tell to win: Connect, Persuade and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story’ by Peter Guber

As a former chairman of Sony Pictures, Guber knows how to tell a good story in the entertainment industry. Uses the Trojan Horse as a metaphor for storytelling – an impressive and engaging delivery system for the speaker’s agenda.



Top online Powerpoint and Excel Templates for Consultants

To help your work go a little faster, there are lots of Powerpoint and Excel templates available online. Many of these are business and management specific with good, clear and professional looking designs – so why spend ages trying to align all the text boxes on a presentation or worry about the functions and formatting in a spreadsheet? The basics are already out there to build from!

Firstly, a quick mention of this website: It has to be the best for consulting professionals to get templates from as there is such a multitude and they are all submitted by consultants themselves. It claims to have 220,000 downloadable files including 140,000 Powerpoints and 50,000 financial models. That’s quite a lot. Only catch to get access to this goldmine is that you can only access the resources if invited after writing up an application. Definitely worth it if you can get through though as it is recommended as the #1 site for consultants.


1) Definitely the best slides for consultants looking for great diagrams with vibrant colours and enticing designs. There are some free slides available here but the subscription is worth it for these excellent slides.

2) Here there are uploads from top consulting firms such as BCG if you search for ‘consulting’ presentations

3) Strategy Expert is a consulting website so these templates will be consulting specific.

4) No slides can be downloaded for free here but there are some nice designs, if only to get some inspiration to create your own.

5) Another subscription needed for this one, but several management consultant specific slides available.



1)  Skilled Up has an excellent list of Excel templates here with links to all the websites to download them from (note some of them require membership but have one free download). Clear explanations are given for what the templates are for – some are more relevant to small businesses but definitely an all-purpose useful list of links including financial modeling and Excel templates for Macs.

2)  Lots of useful templates from Chandoo here including Gantt charts, project reporting dashboards, management tracker tools and ready-made formula sheets

3)  Strategy Expert again with a small range of Excel models here but all aimed at consultants.

4)  Slightly annoyingly not in any order but over a 110 Excel spreadsheets for free download here. As they’re free, it’s certainly worth a search for what you’re looking for

5)  Another non-ordered list but almost all based on financial models with direct links to the free downloads from other sites

6)  For a relatively small price, this website offers a range of financial templates including Analysis, Planning and Projection.

Time saving Powerpoint Tips

Powerpoint is a very important tool for consultants as making presentations is a large part of the job. But Powerpoint can also be a fiddly business and time saving tips and tricks are undoubtedly welcome for all those late night presentation making sessions or trying to finish one off during a train or plane journey on the way to the client…!  This blog post from Articulate E-learning has 5 great time saving tips including short video tutorials on the points made.  The videos on this playlist include how to put Excel tables into a Powerpoint – definitely an important tip what with Excel being the basis of calculations and modeling which you are presenting!  Excellent guide to print with 25 tips from Dave Paradi who wrote the ‘Guide to Powerpoint’ book   Some good ideas here, particularly using a Slide Master to alter formatting of all slides with only one change rather than on each slide. A list of 10 tips with links to longer tutorial articles. Includes info on compressing photos, comparing multiple presentations and using the new ‘Animation Painter’ tool.  A huge list of over 200 keyboard shortcuts for Powerpoint 2007. No doubt these will help speed things along, particularly when not working with a mouse. A slightly shorter list of keyboard shortcuts on the Microsoft website but probably the more important ones Tips here for Mac users from a ‘genius’ on the Mac Powerpoint team.


Get to know Prezi – the cooler Powerpoint!

Consultants use Powerpoint for a lot of their job as presentations need to be given to clients to explain the solutions you have proposed in your report. But sitting through presentations can sometimes get a little boring. To solve this problem of keeping audiences engaged, Prezi has come up with new dynamic forms of animation and organisation for slide shows.

Although you might think that animations are a waste of time, remember that the aim of a presentation is to sell your management solution to the client and if they are drawn into your presentation, they’ll be more likely to be captivated by your points and remember them well. The characteristic ‘zooming’ function of Prezi is ideal for illustrating the big picture and focusing in on details.

Prezi is free to use on a public account but to have a private account or to use Prezi offline, there is an annual charge. See 

For simple advice on getting to know this software, to wow both your peers and clients, check out the following websites… Basics and manual, as well as a system to submit your own help requests  Quick start 2 page guide to creating your first Prezi More quick steps for Prezi Simple basics of Prezi for beginners  Great step by step blog post on how to import a Powerpoint presentation into Prezi in order to zazz it up!  Quick list of Prezi basics and keyboard shortcuts

However, do remember that Prezi is not suitable for all presentations. It’s constant zooming can be distracting and the emphasis on a non-linear, brainstorming like structure to show how things are intertwined can be confusing if you are explaining a step by step process. So don’t forsake Powerpoint entirely! Ensure your presentation is matched to the needs of the audience to whom you are presenting. See the following websites for info on the pros and cons: London School of Economics article on when Prezi is suitable and not suitable for learning Short presentation on basic pros and cons   Good article on reviewing the new Prezi technology. Still has a fondness for Powerpoint though and has a book about how to make Powerpoint as good as Prezi.

P.S. is a new presentation tool that might soon overtake Prezi in it’s innovative design formats for Powerpoint. It’s less about animation and more about interesting template designs…so check out this too for more ideas!

See an introduction to emaze here:

Top 6 Consultancy Recruitment Videos

Recruitment videos can either be a bit bland and dull or they can be epic. I don’t know about you, but in this day and age the marketing and adverts of companies can be one of the major draws to further investigate them. So if management consultancies are trying to attract the best graduates around the world, what lengths are they going to go to in their videos…? Well here are the Top 6 consultancy adverts out there -bet you want to be a management consultant after watching these!

1) Accenture ‘The Science of Management Consultancy’ US 2012

This has got to be the most dramatic of all recruitment videos – it’s so empowering that it makes you feel like by training and working for this firm you could really be part of an amazing global business that encompasses the whole world (so I guess the marketing works then!) Dramatic music always makes something awesome (just ask Hans Zimmer) though I have to say that plenty of the images seem really random and irrelevant for the daily life of a consultant mainly being sitting in meetings and agonising over presentations and paperwork. I really don’t think there would ever be a time where a management consultant would stand on top of a snow capped mountain…Although they try to make it look like it, they are not a mountain adventure company so don’t be fooled!

2) PwC ‘Graduate Recruitment Video’ Australia 2006

This wins for most random recruitment video – and indeed apparantly it won the Best Graduate Intake Award that year…guess all those students hoped their job would just be hula hooping, pogo sticking and segwaying around all day to the top of the ladder (which to be fair is basically all the advert implies…!)

3) Ernst & Young ‘Recruiting Commercial’ Sweden 2007

This definitely wins for most amusing recruitment video! Guess it would make any friends who think management consultancy is dull realise that perhaps there are actors out there who really dream of auditing…(?!)

4) Accenture ‘Management Consulting Careers’ US 2010

Accenture wins again with more dramatic music and dramatic scenery….surely there isn’t so much drama for literally every second of the day as this counting down clock suggests?! Well, you probably will be working all hours of the day though so I guess that’s slightly more accurate than the last one…!

5) Deloitte ‘Graduate Recruitment Promo’ Russia 2012

Plenty of sports and fun activities being shown here – being part of Deloitte seems like you can be part of a much larger range of activities. But remember, the main focus of your job is going to be management consultancy – not playing football.

6) Oliver Wyman ‘Our World’ US 2012

Plenty of shots from around the world here, emphasising the international aspects of the company and the travel opportunities that are a major draw to this line of work. And of course throughout it is emphasised that everyone at this company is ‘so interesting and friendly and the best’ – who wouldn’t want to work with people like that?