Indeed, some of the groups I’ve mentored have probably exhibited the type of acumen that you’d normally only see at a high-level board presentation. In guiding the teams, I find it’s often useful to impart four key guidelines that can prove invaluable when developing and presenting project concepts. These are as follows:
- Establish a structure: Draw up a simple one-page picture or diagram that clearly shows how the available data and resulting analysis will be turned into final client recommendations. This will help guide the team more effectively and provide a good basis for communicating with the client.
- Acquire the right information: The best projects are always supported by hard data. The question is: how do you know if the information you have serves the intended purpose? Firstly, outline your argument and highlight the strengths of the supporting information. Then critique the information in terms of how well it supports your assertion. This will clearly indicate the areas that need further research.
- Communicate constantly: Check in with the client regularly and work on the client’s premises as much as possible. This eliminates communications inefficiencies and guarantees you regular face-to-face contact. Always keep them informed at key project stages. During the final presentation stage, you really just want to be confirming what they already know.
- Tell a compelling tale: Make sure that a final presentation always tells a story. Frame the argument and then take the client on a journey, backing it up with strong supporting evidence. By the time you get to the recommendation slides, it should be a no-brainer. Also be sure to anticipate client questions ahead of time and have detailed responses at hand. This is always impressive.