DK\’s Blog

June 27, 2006

Doggie Piggy Bunny Presentations for Senior Management

Filed under: Business,Career Advice — darrenkelly @ 6:14 am

It never ceases to amaze me how many business peeople don’t know how to present their analysis and data.    Even the best analysis falls down if it can’t be quickly consumed by the people around you, especially senior managers.   In the spirit of public service, I thought I’d send out this helpful primer on how to do it.  Straight from Bain training.  Here goes:

When presenting information to sr. managers, you have to “dumb it down” to child-like simplicity.  Doggie.  Piggy.  Bunny.

1)       If it is more than 5 slides, and a table of contents that re-appears with scrolling square box around the section you are about to begin2)       Each slide should have a heading, a “tagline” and a chart or bullet points.3)       Aim to have many more chart slides than bullet point slides.   CEO’s like charts, and it ensures your analysis is data-driven, not opinion based.4)       Each chart page should have a “so what”.   What is the one (maybe two) takeaway(s) from this chart?   What is the most important point about this data.5)       Have a conclusions slide.  Either put first or last, depending on whether you think you have to prove it to your audience.  If they are skeptical, show the charts first, THEN the conclusion.  Otherwise lead with the conclusions.  If your boss learns to trust you, he/she may not ever look beyond it.6)       Try to use a mostly white background in PowerPoint so it is easy to see.7)       Have consistent font sizes page to page.   Never use more than 3 font sizes, if you can.    Believe it or not, changing font sizes is the biggest reason people don’t take a presentation seriously.   There are studies on this.   No funky fonts either.  Arial, Times New Roman or maybe something that looks like one of those.

8)       No cartoons.  Ever.

9)    If you are making a logical argument, Remember MECE.   Are the outcomes you’ve evaluated both Mutually Exclusive and Cumulatively Exhaustive?   If so, and you’ve proved which is correct with your great data slides, start looking for a car to match your big promotion!

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June 23, 2006

What GMAT’s and LSAT’s Really Test

Filed under: Business,Career Advice — darrenkelly @ 10:20 am

Tonight at the Denver Entrepreneur of the Year Award dinner (actually, 8 “Entrepreneurs of the Year” in 8 categories, with 3 companies in each, proving that the sponsor, Ernst & Young, really knows how to make all potential clients feel loved), I learned something from Brent, an attorney at our law firm Cooley.

He used to work for Princeton Review, the group that sells books and (now) courses on how to do well on the GMAT.   I did pretty well on the GMAT, so I felt comfortably smug sharing my honest belief that the only reason I did well is that as a kid I used to do lots of puzzles from “Games Magazine”, and many of the stupid GMAT questions required the same sort of canned rules & tricks to quickly answer them – much like the video games of today which require players to learn the “secrets” of unlocking the next level.   I thought this was a truly idiotic way of assessing intelligence, and that doing well on the GMAT or LSAT only proved that you knew that there was a system of rules, and if you figured out the secrets, you could win.

Brent pointed out that THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE EXAMS ARE ATTEMPTING TO REWARD – people who figure out “the game” and “the secrets” to winning.  

This is a stunning insight that every college-bound high-school student, and frankly, most participants in the overall corporate Rat-Race should memorize.    GMATs, and much of corporate life, IS A GAME.   Figure out the rules, and you win.   I always felt this way about most college courses (it isn’t what you learn, but the fact you figured out the way to get good grades with each professor) but the larger lesson is smack-down, in-your-face life-changing.  The same rule applies to almost every part of life.  Since I’m mostly familiar with how economic incentives rule behavior (the only other one is sex, which I’m pretty sure is the main reason people want to do well economically, but that is a topic for another posting later), here are my best guesses at the “secrets” of winning the economic game:

 – You have to be lucky to win

 – You have to put yourself in a position that increases your odds of being lucky.

That is it.   Talent, effort, etc. are important, but those are a given.  Lots of people are smart.  Lots of people work hard.  Everyone knows some jerk who made a fortune, despite obvious character flaws that should have prevented he/she from ever being promoted from assistant hamburger flipper.   But if you apply this test, I bet you 10 out of 10 will be people who took a chance to put themselves in a position for the big win.   Whether it be entrepreneurs in a start-up eating cans of corn and sharing a house with their fellow employees, or mega-million atheletes who achieve the pinacle of success in their field, or traders on Wall Street, the big winners hold a ticket in a lottery where the probablity-weighted odds are a lot better than the ol’ powerball draw.

So there you have it.   I passed the GMAT in 1991, and just now figured out how it was truly relevant.

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