Consulting toolkit crafting a storyline

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  • 1. CONSULTING TOOLKIT Communicating your Recommendation Crafting a Storyline© 2007-2012 IESIES Development Ltd. All Ltd. Reserved © 2007-2012 Development Rights All Rights Reserved
  • 2. “Do not say a little in many words but a great deal in a few.” Pythagoras © 2007-2012 IES Development Ltd. All Rights Reserved
  • 3. Structure your writing so that if the reader/audience leaves atany time, they will still get the most important points Tagline If you only had 15 seconds, how would you communicate your recommendation? Executive Summary If the reader only reads one page, how would you communicate your recommendation? The “Pack” The story backed up by charts that communicates your recommendation the most powerful way Appendix/Back-up What analysis does not fit in your story, but you want available to answer the reader’s questions? © 2007-2012 IES Development Ltd. All Rights Reserved
  • 4. Taglines serve the same purpose in presentations as they do in advertisingA tagline is a variant ofa branding slogan.The idea behind the concept isto create a memorable phrasethat will sum up the tone andpremise of arecommendation and reinforcethe audiences memory of apresentation “In space no-one can hear you scream” © 2007-2012 IES Development Ltd. All Rights Reserved
  • 5. “Pyramid Principle” writing is more like a Tabloid journalist than a“Whodunnit” author ONCE upon a time there were Three Bears, who lived together in a house of their own, in a Bad girl wood. One of them was a Little, Small, Wee Bear; and one was a Middle-sized Bear, and the other was a Great, Huge Bear. They each had a pot for their porridge, a little pot for the Little, Small, Wee Bear, and a middle-sized pot for the Middle Bear, and a great pot for the Great,Huge Bear. And they each had a chair to sit in; a little chair for the Little, Small, Wee Bear; and a middle-sized chair for the Middle Bear; and a great chair for the Great, Huge Bear. And they each had a bed to sleep in; a little bed for the Little, Small, Wee Bear; and a middle-sized bed raidsfor the Middle Bear; and a great bed for the Great, Huge Bear. One day, after they had made the porridge for their breakfast, and poured it into their porridge-pots, they walked out into the wood while the porridge was cooling, that they might not burn their mouths, by beginning too soon to eat it. And while they were walking, a little Girl named Goldilocks came to the house. She could not have been a good, honest little Girl; for first she looked in at the window, Bear Lair! and then she peeped in at the keyhole; and seeing nobody in the house, she lifted the latch.The door was not fastened, because the Bears were good Bears, who did nobody any harm, and never suspected that anybody would harm them. So Goldilocks opened the door, and went in; and well pleased she was when she saw the porridge on the table. If she had been a goodlittle Girl, she would have waited till the Bears came home, and then, perhaps, they would have asked her to breakfast; for they were good Bears. © 2007-2012 IES Development Ltd. All Rights Reserved
  • 6. Try to find a compelling tag-line summary of your presentation•Memorable•Easy to understand•Focuses attention•Unifies your whole recommendation e.g. “Nokia should become the Smartphone company for emerging markets” What could the tagline be for your recommendation on © 2007-2012 IES Development Ltd. All Rights Reserved
  • 7. “The Pyramid Principle*” lays out a standard format for communicating a recommendation Situation We have been progressing smoothly….. Complication ….but now, the situation is changing and requires action Question ….and the question is, what shall we do? Answer We should do this Rationale For these reasons: 1, 2 and 3Source: *”The Pyramid Principle” by©Barbara Minto Ltd. All Rights Reserved 2007-2012 IES Development
  • 8. “Pyramid Principle” writing grabs and holds the reader’s attention Situation Consultants must communicate their recommendations clearly so that managers can act on themComplication However, managers have very little time or patience Question How can consultants communicate their recommendations so that they grab and hold managers’ attention? Answer Consultants should structure their storyline according to “The Pyramid Principle” Because: Rationale 1. It matches the communication to how humans think 2. It is clear and logical 3. All the top management consulting companies use it © 2007-2012 IES Development Ltd. All Rights Reserved
  • 9. In business writing, it is usually best to give the answer away upfront, not make the reader wade through your workings • The method you used to solve the problem is NOT the same way that you use to communicate it – Don’t tell the story of your project! – The audience cares about your conclusion, not your journey – Don’t communicate your workings – e.g. issue tree or workplan • Simplify ruthlessly – Cut your pack down to the minimum your need to support your recommendation - you don’t get paid per page – Drop analysis to the Appendix if the conclusion does not fit your story, even if you spent many days on it © 2007-2012 IES Development Ltd. All Rights Reserved
  • 10. If additional support is needed, the pyramid can be extended many layers The Answer Point 1 Point 2 Point 3Sub-point 1 Sub-point 1 Sub-point 1 Sub-sub- Sub-sub- Sub-sub- point 1 point 2 point 3 © 2007-2012 IES Development Ltd. All Rights Reserved
  • 11. Stick to 5 basic rules to structure your pyramid1. Your pyramid can be as many layers as you want (but you can capture the essence of most stories in less than 9 sub- points)2. Only use 2-4 sub-points per level (if only one, collapse the points; if more than 4, be ruthless – what are the most important?)3. The sub-points must directly imply the conclusion above; don’t bring in new things!4. The sub-points answer the questions the main point will raise in the leader (or listener’s) mind5. Put anything that does not fit the storyline (e.g. issues you worked on that did not work out) into backup – do not pollute the main storyline • Iterate! The most compelling storyline emerges as you practice © 2007-2012 IES Development Ltd. All Rights Reserved