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Between 2005 and 2011, IMC published Daily Tips every weekday on consulting ethics, marketing, service delivery and practice management. You may search more than 800 tips on this website using keywords in "Search all posts" or clicking on a tag in the Top Tags list to return all tips with that specific tag. Comment on individual tips (members and registered guests) or use the Contact Us form above to contact Mark Haas CMC, FIMC, Daily Tips author/editor. Daily Tips are being compiled into several volumes and will be available through IMC USA and Mark Haas.

 

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#646: More Data Won't Make Your Presentations More Compelling

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, September 5, 2011
Updated: Monday, September 5, 2011
For all the analysis consultants do for our clients, it seems that no matter how much analytic findings we present, some clients either want more data or "have to think about it." We're highly regarded in the analysis department and it isn't all clients, so we have to consider it is the nature of the presentation itself.

Remember, presentations are not what the word implies. This is really not about just "presenting" information in an attempt to inform the audience. Our work for clients does include analysis and sharing the findings and recommendations. However, it is really about creating a compelling case for clients to take some kind of action. We want them to do something because they feel they must. not overwhelm them with numbers in the hope that logic will prevail.

A century ago, business advertising was primarily aimed at convincing consumers (that includes other businesspeople) that the features of the product were superior. After Edward Bernays and others discovered that people were compelled by emotion, advertising, public relations and business persuasion changed. Advertising uses storyboards to create that emotion and put you in the mood to buy. Because we are now so familiar with this way of interaction, your clients implicitly want to be told, or sold, on a story of your findings.

Corporate storytelling is now a profession. Look at executive speeches over the past decade and you will see that the best ones are ones that weave a story through the facts. Approach your presentations with storytelling in mind, supported by the facts as needed. As the saying goes, "you can't displace by logic that which was arrived at by emotion." If you don't know the emotional state you wish to displace in your clients, then any presentation will be a hard sell.

Tip: A resource I highly recommend is Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences. Author Nancy Duarte provides a professional guide to understanding and delivering great presentations that resonate with audiences and compel an emotional reaction.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  customer understanding  innovation  presentations  recommendations  trends 

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#645: The Rising Value of Consulting Conferences

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, September 2, 2011
Updated: Friday, September 2, 2011
Having been to a few consulting conferences over the years, I was never a big fan. However, The Consulting Summit and Confab have gotten good reaction lately. Is there any reason to take a few days to go to these and what will I get out of them?

There are different conferences for different people and needs. The Consulting Summit, run by Kennedy Information's Consulting Magazine, is a one-day event focused generally on macro issues of the business and consulting market. The next one is being held in New York City on November 9, 2011. If you manage a larger firm, the people you can network with and the topics covered are appropriate for you. The Summit has been a great place to catch up with leaders of large firms and renew relationships.

Confab, run by IMC USA as its annual conference, is a 2-3 day event focused on client service, marketing and practice management issues. This year's conference will be held in Reno, NV on October 22-24, 2011. If you run a mid-sized or smaller firm and your focus is on new concepts in consulting practice, enhanced marketing and improving point of delivery skills, then Confab is for you. With the changes in client use of consultants, Confab is a great way to jump start new lines of business, to meet other executive level consultants from whom you can learn about new markets and new consulting techniques...

Tip: Some consultants consider conferences are beneath them. However, when markets change like they have in the past two years, don't let pride get in the way of learning why some of your business is about to decline or where some traditional consulting practices are falling out of favor. Consultants who attend conferences are those who can see changes in the marketplace and are always developing new services and meeting people with whom they can develop new business. These are the people you want to spend time with to invigorate your consulting practice

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  conference  learning  market research  networks  planning  practice management  product development  professional development  referrals  trends 

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#644: What Advice Do Yo Have?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, September 1, 2011
Updated: Thursday, September 1, 2011
These Daily Tips have really helped me in my business, but I have a few of my own that I'd like to share. Can I submit them for publication?

Glad you asked. IMC USA's mission is to promote excellence and ethics in management consulting through certification, education and professional resources. That said, we welcome your best ideas.

The top five Tip subjects subscribers value most.are:
  • Consulting Techniques
  • Client Relations
  • Business Development
  • Bus./Mgmt/Consulting Trends
  • Marketing and Selling
Send tips to dailytipsubmit@imcusa.org and we will review and publish those that are appropriate and do not duplicate recent or upcoming tips. Although we expect to publish most tips as submitted, IMC USA reserves the right to edit tips for size or clarity. Please limit tips to 250 words or less and provide a "lead" that states the issue or context of the tip (see recent tips for examples). Also include your full name, company, and email address (yes, we will attribute the tips to you). We may or may not publish your tips and may schedule them for some time in the future, but we will attribute tips to authors. If tips require substantial edits we will contact you for confirmation. Thanks for your support and contributions to making us all more effective advisors.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  intellectual property  recommendations 

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#643: Put Power Back Into Your PowerPoint

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, August 31, 2011
I know Ed Tufte and others decry the overuse of PowerPoint and presentation software, but my clients insist on this format for their briefings. I do use nonstandard templates and animation (within reason) to add interest but what else can I do?

"Death by PowerPoint" is a well known affliction of consultants and their clients. The widespread availability of presentation software has made formerly elegant and compelling presentations (and speeches) into linear, low resolution and predictable marches of standalone points. Some people are better at PowerPoint than others but this usually is due not to the clever use of software but by the design of the content.

Think about what a presentation is about. It is an attempt to convey a message, often to influence an audience. It may dispense information, introduce concepts, startle the audience or drive at some other outcome, but the most effective method to convey these are in the form of a story. This communication form really is amenable to almost any presentation content. The goal is to inspire, influence and for the audience to remember. This means using the continuity of a narrative.

This is not about graphics or clip art or animation. It is about thinking through the communication before you ever put pen to paper (or mouse to screen). Begin by storyboarding and build in your information only after you identify the needed scope and sequence. Often we have the points we want to make in our head, we create a rough outline, start generating slides, edit, add graphics, resequence slides, dry run, polish and we are good to go. Active verbs in slide titles, horizontal logic, roadmaps, colors as visual cues, chunking of the story, audience interaction, timing, the first few slides, and other parts of a presentation must be well designed before you even draft the first slide. Tip: For a good tutorial on how to make your presentations more powerful (and memorable), see Cliff Atkinson's Beyond Bullet Points for concepts, resources and tips on putting the power back into your PowerPoints.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  creativity  presentations 

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#642: One More Hour of Sleep

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, August 30, 2011
We have been hearing a lot about how, as a nation, we don't get enough sleep and the impact it has on our health. Given that the consultant lifestyle is sometimes not conducive to regular sleep patterns, what else should I know about this?

Your point about the consultant lifestyle is well taken. A trip home on the red eye last week, a late night preparing for a presentation this week, a stressful event next week. Although in many cases we manage our sleep, there are plenty of times that we sacrifice sleep for our job.

What's the latest research on the impact of irregular or insufficient sleep? Decreased learning, weight gain, disruption of deep sleep, reduced reaction times, fatigue, irritability, loss of memory, lower productivity, increased anxiety, lower resistance to illness, . . . get the point? Would you hire a consultant with those attributes? Whether not enough enough sleep or irregular schedules, we should take even a bit of sleep deprivation seriously.

Several sleep management techniques are important for the consultant. For example, we now know the improvement in learning effectiveness from a good night's sleep right after learning new material. So, follow up your review of client presentation material or research data by getting to bed early for a full night's sleep. What sounds like common sense is now backed up by solid research. Take a bit of time to better understand where you can improve the quality and regularity of your sleep.

Tip: Manage your sleep just as you do other resources necessary for a successful business (e.g., cash flow, intellectual property).

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

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