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Most consulting presentations get these 6 things wrong

Posted 2024-05-09
Most consulting presentations get these 6 things wrong


This blog tackles common mistakes consultants make in presentations: burying the lead, illogical structure, weak action titles, irrelevant visuals, and ignoring context. Captivating storytelling and clear calls to action are key for impact, and by…... read more This blog tackles common mistakes consultants make in presentations: burying the lead, illogical structure, weak action titles, irrelevant visuals, and ignoring context. Captivating storytelling and clear calls to action are key for impact, and by avoiding these pitfalls, consultants can use presentations to drive understanding, engagement, and action. close

Crafting an impactful consulting presentation is both an art and a science, yet even the most experienced professionals will stumble into common pitfalls that diminish the impact of their message. From burying the lead to writing weak action titles, each mistake has the potential to dilute your presentation. To avoid these common errors, this blog will highlight the most common mistakes and how you can address them.

Burying the lead in a consulting presentation

A common pitfall in consulting presentations is burying the lead. Clients are often short on time and want immediate clarity and direction on an issue, and starting with an in-depth analysis instead of the key recommendation would lose their interest. This is why it is recommended to begin at the end, starting with your conclusion and then working your way backward to provide supporting arguments. This method is outlined in the pyramid principle, which you can read more about here, and is a staple framework for any consulting presentation.

Not structuring the document logically

Consulting presentations regularly handle dense and detailed information, so it requires logical organization to ensure their effectiveness. A well-organized presentation should lead the audience through a clear and coherent journey, flowing through the executive summary, sources, recommendations, supporting arguments, and next steps. For example, when advising a client on expanding their business internationally, the presentation should lay out the original recommendation followed by well-founded arguments. This might include case studies, a financial model, the identification of potential partners, and addressing risks. The idea is that using a structured approach ensures that the audience understands the rationale behind your recommendations.

Writing weak action titles

A very common oversight in consulting presentations is using weak action titles. The action titles are the slide’s top tagline, which also plays a large role since they narrate the entire presentation’s story. They allow decision-makers to grasp the main idea behind your recommendation by merely skimming through the slide titles. To create effective action titles, they should be concise enough to capture the slide’s essence but also action-oriented to convey the implications for the client. For example, instead of “Market analysis findings,” you can say, “Marketing analysis reveals untapped growth potential.” Using more powerful action titles streamlines communication but also enhances a presentation’s impact.

Including irrelevant charts 

Including irrelevant charts in consulting presentations should not be as common as it is, but alas. Consultants can get carried away and try to include as many details as possible but end up distracting from the main message. Each chart added to a presentation must serve a direct purpose, answer a direct question, or advance an argument. Before creating any visual, question what its objectives are, what proof it offers, and how clear it is. A simple, yet effective, slide that supports your argument will always outdo a cluttered slide with redundant information. The slides in a consulting presentation should be insightful, actionable, and relevant, directly addressing the challenge at hand.

Ignoring the context of the consulting presentation 

Do not, under any circumstances, overlook the importance of context in a consulting presentation. The significance of context is as crucial as the content itself. It sets the stage, providing the backdrop that makes the content relevant and meaningful. Without context, even the most well-crafted content will fall flat and fail to resonate with the audience or drive any real action. Context breathes life into the data and allows you to form a story out of the information. For consultants, weaving context with content ensures that a presentation both informs and persuades, making it an ally for any presenter.

Not adding a call to action at the end 

Reaching the grand finale falls flat when your audience is left with nowhere to go. So, it is important to incorporate a clear call to action to guide the audience on their next steps. Whether your goal was to shift perspectives, deter an initiation, or halt a practice, a single, focused call to action ensures that your message is actually acted upon. For example, if you’re introducing a software, do not just boast about its features; direct the audience towards a tangible action they can take, such as downloading the program and registering with their email. Not only does this clarify the desired outcome, but it also boosts the likelihood of engagement.

In consulting, a well-executed presentation can be the key to unlocking understanding, engagement, and action from clients. Avoiding common pitfalls, such as illogical structures or insufficient context, can help elevate your slides and ensure their impact. An impactful presentation requires artfully weaving together background and foreground information and calls to action to propel people forward. A more nuanced approach to your slides allows you to transform any deck into a vehicle for change. If you’re in search for extra help in crafting the perfect consulting presentation, you could always reach out to our team!