Create a Consulting Presentation (with MBB slides examples)

Create consulting presentations: MBB slides - guide and example

Management consultants create thousands of slide presentations. Consultants work on several client presentations. As a result, they learn lots of little tips and tricks that give their presentations a special professional look and make them ready for a boardroom. In fact, management consulting presentations are clearly distinctive. You can directly tell if a slide deck is from an MBB consulting firm, for example, McKinsey, BCG, or Bain, or if it’s not. In this article on slide presentations, we will discuss the little tips and tricks and the little elements that top consulting firms and management consultants use to make their presentations more effective and impactful for executive members. Hopefully, this will help you improve your presentations and give them a professional touch and feel.

PowerPoint is one of the most frequently used tools in businesses. In this article, we will discuss the PowerPoint presentation principles that consultants use for literally every single presentation or project that they work on. We will also discuss the elements that typically appear on slides that almost every consultant uses on a daily basis but that are rarely seen in presentations outside of the consulting world. So therefore, if you are really interested in taking your slide presentation game to the next level, read this article till the end. Hopefully, you’ll come across important points that can help you improve your presentation skills.

Create consulting Presentations: Basic Slide Elements

Date

So let’s start with some basic elements that must be included on every single presentation slide. While making an MBB slide deck, always remember to insert the date. You can either put the date on which the presentation was created or when you presented your presentation. Basically, the purpose of adding the date here is that many presentation slides aren’t just created for presentation purposes, but rather as a document that will then be circulated throughout the company. And therefore, it is imperative that the reader be well aware of when the presentation was created, which will help build the context for whatever he or she is to read.

Source

In addition to the date, you’ll often also see the inclusion of ‘source’ in MBB presentations. This is added as a reference to wherever you got your information from so that anytime someone wants to verify the information, they know where to look. Moreover, you can include a source such as Skillsharepk, or you can just give the name of your department. Furthermore, in case you are referring to a certain data point, you may give the source of that data; what data are you using; where is the data coming from; when was the data collected, and so on and so forth.

Page Numbers

Another thing that is included in the MBB slide deck is a page number, which is, of course, very useful. For example, if you’re in a meeting and a colleague wants to refer to a specific page, he or she can simply ask you to turn to that page number, and everyone in the room will know exactly which page is under discussion and what points it covers.

Foot Notes

The next element that you can use is footnotes. For reference, these are marked as 1, 2, and 3 in our example. This is a part where you can give specific details on certain things, in case any elaboration or details have not been pointed out in the regular text on the slide. And therefore, you can just include these details in the footnote as an additional remark. Typically, footnotes are written in smaller font sizes than the main page text.

Create a consulting presentation

Create Consulting Presentations: Action Titles

One of the most important elements of every presentation slide is the action title. The action title is the slide header, and creating a good action title is an art in itself. Action titles essentially summarize the content of the slides in a precise and concise sentence. Action titles serve as a punchline or the conclusion that is driven from the slide.

The main objective behind the use of action titles is that if a reader reads the slide headers or ‘action titles’ only, he or she should clearly understand the essence, storyline, and central idea of the presentation, as well as the key messages of the entire presentation. Using action titles in your slide deck will help you create a good flow and storyline that will create a greater impact on the audience.

We will not go into much detail about action titles in this article. If you want to explore this topic further, you can refer to our detailed article, “Powerpoint Presentation Essentials: Action Titles.” This covers in much more detail the concept of action titles, and how to write action titles, and also has various action title examples being used in corporate presentations to give you a complete idea and understanding of their use.

Create Consulting presentations: Presentation Charts

An important element in the MBB presentation deck is the charts. In MBB presentation slides, you will see that almost every slide contains a chart. There is always some kind of diagram or graph that is used to depict and visualize data. The reason for the frequent use of graphs in consulting presentation slides is simple; very frequently, consultants base their arguments on data. Businesses have a greater expectation from consultants that they will back up their findings and recommendations with some data-driven analysis. And obviously, if you use these kinds of data analysis, you will use charts and graphs to show the results of your analysis. In fact, data-driven analysis is now becoming a norm in all industries, organizations, and even the government. And therefore, using graphs and charts is now becoming increasingly important in slide deck.

To add a graph, you can use the built-in charts feature in PowerPoint. Alternatively, you can also use different plug-ins to add charts to your presentations. One commonly used tool among all major consulting firms is ThinkCell.

add chart to presentation

Waterfall

If you go over these chart types, you will already know most of them and probably even use them yourself, such as the stack bar chart, the bar chart, or the cluster bar chart. I would like to specifically point out the waterfall chart type, which you’ll see in almost every strategy consulting presentation.

A waterfall chart is an effective way to visualize a starting value, the positive and negative changes made to that value, and the resulting end value. In a waterfall chart, the first column is the starting value, and the last column is the end value. The floating columns between them are the contributing positive or negative values. The first column in a waterfall chart represents the initial value, while the last column represents the ending value. The positive and negative values are represented by the floating columns between them.

Waterfall charts are more frequently used in consulting presentations, for example at McKinsey, BCG, etc. Outside of consulting, they are quite uncommon.

Here is a basic example of what a waterfall chart looks like. This example will show you why waterfall charts can be so helpful in so many business presentations. Waterfall charts are also sometimes called “Bridge charts,” since waterfall charts create a bridge and show how one number relates to another. Looking at our example, you can see how the waterfall chart is being used to show bridges between financial figures. Here we compare the EBIDTA of 2021 to the EBITDA of 2022. And we can see how each stage affected the final EBIDTA of 2022.

add a waterfall chart

So, for example, “Effect 1” actually reduced the EBITDA by 750, but “Effect 2” compensated for it and increased the EBIDTA by 800, and then so on and so forth. In conclusion, you can see that the waterfall chart enables you to break down components into different sub-components that were driving them and enables you to visually show those changes.


Bar Graph & Column Charts

Another commonly used graph is the bar graph (also called the column chart). Bar graphs are visual representations of data (usually grouped) in the form of horizontal or vertical bars, with the length of the bar corresponding to the data value. Bar charts are an effective way to show relative sizes.

For a typical bar chart, the x-axis shows the category while the y-axis represents the value for those categories. Here is an example.

add a column chart on presentation

In our case, we are depicting the data on total exports from Pakistan for each year. Notice how we format our charts to really put emphasis on some points. You can also check our detailed article to learn how to create and effectively format your charts to convey key messages in your slide deck.


Create Consulting Presentations: Callouts

Adding charts is an ideal way to depict your data. However, consultants use various elements in their MBB presentation to really drive the message home. One such element is the callout. Callouts are added to the charts to give specific details that you want to emphasize or just add details, information or context to one specific chart component. To see how callouts are typically used, see our example below. Such callouts are used in pretty much every consulting presentation:

add a callout on presentation

Create Consulting Presentations: Stickers

Another element that is frequently used in corporate presentations is a sticker. A sticker is a qualification of the page. The concept of using a sticker is to let the audience know the status or the reason for the slide. Some of the most commonly used stickers include:

  1. Discuss
  2. Read
  3. Preliminary
  4. Indicative
  5. Illustrative

Stickers are used by consultants in MBB presentations as a guide for the audience to tell them the context. Moreover, stickers can also be used as a way to protect yourself. So, for example, suppose that you have made an analysis that might be a bit premature and slightly controversial. You know that the results are not optimistic and may not please the audience; perhaps you did not have the full picture at the time you were creating the slide. So in that case, you can use a sticker with which you can just say that this is a preliminary analysis and that you have only included the slide to get an idea or hear an opinion. Overall, this is only used to make it clear that the results you are showing are not final, and that additional information can be added.
Stickers can be particularly helpful when you’re dealing with a hostile client, which can be the case, especially when working at a big consulting firm.

add stickers to powerpoint slides

Create Consulting Presentations: Takeaway Box

Another element that you can frequently use is the takeaway box. This is like a conclusion box that is shown on the slide presentation underneath or next to the chart and includes an important overall remark.
So while callouts are usually used to just give information on a specific element of the chart, general information that is relevant to the whole of the chart can be given in takeaway boxes below the chart. In the takeaway box, you can just include the main insights, main piece of information, or main conclusion that you want the reader or viewer to take away from the chart that you are showing.

create consulting presentation

Create Consulting Presentations: Bubbles

Bubbles are often included in consulting slide presentations to show a limitation of the analysis that you are showing. It is shown in a less formal way in front of the graph or the chart. A bubble is called a bubble because it often takes a rectangular or circular form.

To understand why bubbles are so important, put yourself in the shoes of a consultant. Very frequently, you receive certain datasets and information from clients, and it may take several days or maybe even weeks to conduct the analysis and come up with some kind of result. However, very often what happens is that you may receive some new information at the 11th hour, just before you have to present your findings. In such a case, it will be unlikely for you to perform a new analysis again. And in these situations, you’re faced with the decision to either redo all the analysis to incorporate this new information through a bubble on the page, stating the limitation, or to state what has not yet been included in the analysis.

This is precisely why there’s a saying in the consulting world: “If in trouble, use a bubble.” So therefore, if you are struggling with something or something just isn’t right, most of the time you can sort out the problem using a bubble.

how to create consulting style presentation

Create Consulting Presentations: Number Circles

Another element used in consulting presentations is number circles. Again, this is something that or frequently seen in MBB presentations but is rarely used by non-consulting people. Number circles are essentially used to add an additional layer of information, data, or another dimension of numbers that is not directly shown in the graph that you are presenting. Let’s demonstrate it using an example using a chart shown below. So these are the monthly revenue figures of a business. Such data will help you track how you are doing monthly. Here you can include a second data point using number circles. In our case, we can show cumulative annual revenue in the circles. So, for example, revenues in November 2022 were recorded at USD 18,000, while the total cumulative revenue for the year was USD 184,000 mn.

create mckinsey style consulting presentation

Create Consulting Presentation: Clotheslines

The next concept that we will discuss is also a crucial one. This is about clotheslines. In consulting, “clotheslines” refer to a long list of things or just a long list of bullets. Clotheslines are something that you will never see in consulting-style presentations. Consultants would never present a random list of items, lines of thought, or explanations in their presentations.
Clotheslines are a downright bad way to present your slides. So when you just use a list of thoughts, you miss out on giving your presentation slides a structure. If you present things like this, they will look completely random, and the reader will have no trust that the things listed here have been closely addressed or have been properly analyzed by you.

creating consulting presentations

Create Consulting Presentations: Structure Elements

Having a good structure for your presentation is crucial. The objective here is simply that you can create a good flow of your presentation. One way to achieve this is to define buckets and groups of elements that you can use to organize different subelements that would have otherwise formed bullet points. See an example below of how consultants would structure their presentation slides when evaluating a potential acquisition.

structure consulting presentations

Create Consulting Presentations: Conclusion

To summarize, we have discussed various techniques that will help you improve your presentation and slide deck. I’ll wrap up by providing an example of a slide that will cover all of the points stated above.


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3 thoughts on “Create a Consulting Presentation (with MBB slides examples)”

  1. Pingback: McKinsey Pyramid Principle: Structure Your Presentation Slides

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