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Slide Writing - Challenges

communication MBB slide presentation slides Written
New answer on Jan 31, 2024
9 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Dec 13, 2023

Hey All,

 

Just a quick intro about myself: I am a management consultant with 2.5 years of experience. Half of it is in tier 2/3 firms and the second half is in MBB.

One of the challenges that I faced from my early days in consulting till now, is how to develop slides properly. I am talking mainly about how to build the content and present the message verbally. 

Lately, I received feedback from my manager that I need to invest time to develop this skill 
 I am willing to put time into improving that but not sure where to start. Saw some online courses, but not really sure if they are worth it. I am talking about 1- Firm learning (Heinrich Rusche) communication and slide writing academy  2- Analyst Academy. Any insight about them? Or do you have any other suggestions? 

 

I would appreciate any advice, courses, or articles you may suggest.

Thank you for your time. 

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Moritz
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replied on Dec 13, 2023
ex-McKinsey EM & Interviewer | 7/8 offer rate for 4+ sessions | 90min sessions with FREE exercises & videos

Hi there,

Shame you're not working at my current company - I am running workshops on exactly that topic.

Personally, I wouldn't look outside your current firm because everything will essentially fall short of MBB quality. In my view, you should figure out who's really good at this in your current firm (ask around, check documents in KNOW if you're McKinsey, etc.) and ask them to mentor you.

There's various benefits to that:

  • You give someone else an opportunity to mentor you, which is actually really good if they're not in a formal leadership role yet.
  • You learn from the best and in line with firm standards, which are going to be different from any other firm and certainly 3rd party resources.
  • You save money and time by looking internally and can demonstrate that you're working on this skill because it's more easily trackable.

Hope this helps a bit. Best of luck!

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Dennis
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replied on Dec 13, 2023
Ex-Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe

Hi there,

that is a typical challenge for most people entering consulting. My two cents in a nutshell:

  • Your presentations should be structured such that by only reading the action titles of your slides during a flip through, the reader should essentially get an executive summary of what it is you want to convey
  • The message in the action title has to be found in/derived from the content of that slide
  • You should write your storyline and messaging first and then think about how to best get that message across (visually as well as with supporting content) on the slide itself - storyboarding essentially
  • If you are struggling with the visual elements, MBB have an extensive library of slide templates for various use cases - leverage those rather than reinventing the wheel
  • Also, look through the project documentations of your previous projects and review how your manager/teammates have built and structured their slides for the various aspects of the project - use those as examples for when you have to produce something similar in the future

I don't know if reading a book on the topic or taking a 3rd party course will really be efficient. Be more pragmatic and benchmark yourself against the types of slides that your firm is comfortable with presenting to clients. That will also be the standard the manager who gave you that feedback is going to measure you against.

All the best

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Udayan
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replied on Dec 13, 2023
Top rated Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /12 years recruiting experience

Have you read say it with charts? I found that pretty helpful 

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Hagen
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replied on Jan 31, 2024
#1 Bain coach | >95% success rate | interviewer for 8+ years | mentor and coach for 7+ years

Hi there,

First of all, congratulations on your consulting career thus far!

I would be happy to share my thoughts on your situation:

  • First of all, I would highly advise you to fix the slide writing issue as soon as possible. New hires should normally have mastered the technical skills - including slide writing - within the first 9-12 months of tenure. It's crucial to address this area promptly to ensure your continued success and growth in the consulting industry.
  • Moreover, I would advise you to get in touch with your mentor or a colleague known for excellent slide writing skills to assess your own. This approach will provide you with a more granular view of what specific areas you need to improve. Peer feedback is invaluable as it comes from those who understand the context and expectations of your work environment.
  • Lastly, while external courses on slide writing can be helpful, you will most likely receive better, and free, training within your employer. Many consulting firms have internal resources and experts who can provide more relevant and targeted guidance tailored to the firm's standards and methodologies.

If you would like a more detailed discussion on your specific situation, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Best,

Hagen

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Benjamin
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replied on Dec 31, 2023
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer

Hi,

Great question - and something I struggled with myself too. Here are my thoughts:

Online external courses will really not be very helpful. This is because they will not have the same standards and principles that are often unique to your firm. 

Instead, you should look to develop this skill with resources/help within your firm. I would suggest the following tangible steps:

  1. Find internal resources that will help you learn about what ‘good’ looks like
    • Internal training resources: your firm should have an internal document about the standards/expectations of slide creation
    • Build your own library of ‘killer slides’: ask your peers or internal mentors to share with you the best slides that they have come across or have created themselves - this will be a helpful reference on what ‘good’ looks like
  2. Make sure you have clear and tangible feedback on why your current work is not good and what ‘good’ should look like
    • If your manager is giving you feedback that your slides are not up to mark, make sure the feedback is specific and make sure you are able to also get suggestions on what would have been better
  3. Based on step #1 and step #2, you could even create your own ‘checklist’ or principles that you need to adhere to for a slide to be good
  4. Align with your manager on a scope of work that will allow you to then practice more E2E slide creation
  5. Voluntarily sign up for any trainings appropriate for your tenure that cover this skill (depending on the office/firm)

Hope this helps!

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Ian
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updated an answer on Dec 14, 2023
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

If I were you I'd take the $ I'm currently earning to…ensure I keep earning $.

Take a small % of those earnings and invest in a coach/professional training.

A Q&A isn't going to get you across the line here to the same extent that a professional supporting you will!

Please please hire someone to help you build out the skills - invest in yourself!

I actually run slide/powerpoint training for major consultancies…just ran one for PwC London (i.e. training their consultants). Feel free to reach out for support!

========SOME QUICK INITIAL TIPS FROM A PRIOR Q&A====

I too had a lot of difficulty in the initial months with Powerpoint - no matter what I did, I couldn't seem to learn the ropes. I also was convinced that I didn't have the "creative" ability or "eye" for beauty.

But, that's almost the problem! You're viewing PowerPoint as an art, but it's most definitely a science.

I recommend that you start to approach it this way: boil down good vs bad design into principles, determine the key things to check in a slide, identify what small tweak changes a slide from looking average to awesome. Do this by 1) Getting people to review your slides and note the specific changes thy make and 2) Seeing good slides and asking the person how they did that.

For example:

  1. Always align items on your slide
  2. Look to keep even spacing and sizing between multiple items (i.e. if I have 4 icons down the left column, I make them the exact same size, and set them all to be equidistant from each other)
  3. Use colors to highlight focus areas and draw the eye - but don't overuse colors! (Maybe my first column will be dark blue with white text, if it's asking the key questions we have. Or maybe if I have a "summary" or 3 takeaways on a slide I'll bold + add color to the specific words/phreases that each takeaway is really addressing)
  4. Identify what you are trying to achieve from the slide and then pick your template - there are probably 5 template I cycle through based on what I need. Coloring + content make them look different from each other, but boiled down, they're all quite simple (i.e. a table slide, a sequence slide, a 3 key takeaways slide, etc. etc.)

The list goes on, but I hope this starts to give you an idea of actionable steps you can take to make your slides better, as opposed to relying upon artistic intuition!

(edited)

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Alberto
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replied on Dec 14, 2023
Ex-McKinsey Associate Partner | +15 years in consulting | +200 McKinsey 1st & 2nd round interviews

Hi there,

Honestly, I'd ask for help in your current firm. Try with these sources in this order:

  • Ask for help to second year business analyst (either in your project or people you know at the office). They are usually the most skilled doing this
  • Ask for more accurate  feedback to your manager and even some 1-on-1 sessions if project responsibilities leave time for this
  • Check for internal trainings to improve your communication and your PowerPoint skills. Both goes together

Good luck!

Alberto

Check out my latest case based on a real MBB interview: Sierra Springs

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Cristian
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replied on Dec 13, 2023
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hi there!

Sorry to hear. 

That's a challenge that most consultants have in the beginning. I also received this feedback at the start. 

I don't know the programs you mentioned directly, but I recommend that you work with someone one-on-one. 

I do this now with some of the candidates that I helped get into MBB and now coach on the job, so feel free to reach out if you also need support. 

You basically need somebody who you can trust to give you direct feedback without it affecting your end-of-year review. You need that person to have the time to give you proper feedback and problem-solve what you're not doing right - which is something the manager rarely has time for during an engagement. 

Best,
Cristian

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Nikita
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replied on Dec 16, 2023
MBB & Tier2 preparation | 85+ offers | 7 years coaching | 2000+ sessions | PDF reviews attached

Hey,

In addition to online courses, you can ask some of your colleagues, whom you are friends with and who are good at this skill to coach you. I once struggled with a challenging ppt presentation for a personal project and asked my friend and a former colleague who was good at making slides for help. He gladly assisted.

Good luck!
Nick

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Moritz gave the best answer

Moritz

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