Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Presentation Tip: Case study/Success story slides

In any presentation where you are selling ideas, products or services, your audience will want to know that you can actually solve their problem. Just stating that you can solve the problem is not enough, you have to provide proof. One of the best ways to prove your capabilities is by sharing examples of past situations where you were successful solving similar problems. I call these case studies or success stories. In today’s article I want to share a four-part formula for creating slides that illustrate these powerful stories.

Before I get to the four steps, I want to emphasize the reason you are using case studies. It is not to brag about the work you have done. Too often I see presenters use case studies as a way to boast about the big name clients they have worked for. Remember that the focus of the audience is not on being impressed by who you have worked for, it is on trying to find the best solution to their problem. This means that all of your case studies need to be selected because they illustrate your ability to solve a problem that is similar to the one this client has.

The first step in creating a case study or success story is to describe the problem. Make sure you show how it is similar to the problem the client is struggling with. In a recent consulting assignment, I suggested that my client choose a case where they had dealt with a significant grade on a piece of property, since that was a major concern for their client. If the case study does not directly relate to the situation they face, the client is confused as to why you are sharing it.

The second step is to measure the size of the problem that the case involved. Every organization has more problems than they have resources to solve. The ones that get attention are the ones that are big enough to solve. Provide a measurement of what this problem was costing, what difficulties were being encountered, or the significance of the challenge. This shows the client that you have experience dealing with the size of problem they have.

The third step is to provide an overview of the solution you provided in the case. Do not think that you need to go in to a lot of detail with this explanation. Keep it at a high level so they do not get overwhelmed by detail. The details of the solution for this client will, of course, be different, so keep the discussion to the major activities or approaches you used. If you feel it necessary, have hidden backup slides with additional detail in case the client asks for more details on the solution.

In the final step, provide a measurement of the impact of the solution. Show how it benefitted the organization who was having the problem. As much as possible, show the difference using the same measures as in step two, when you described the size of the problem. You can talk about cost reduction, revenue increase, increase in measures of customer satisfaction, or any other relevant measures for the situation at hand. The client wants to see that your solution actually made a difference, so make that clear.

In summary, the four steps are:
1) Describe the problem and how it is similar
2) Measure the size of the problem
3) Provide an overview of the solution
4) Show the benefit of your solution

By following these four steps, you can show the client that you have the experience to solve the type of problem they have, the size of problem they have, and provide a solution that has a positive impact on results. You can recap the case study or success story on one slide or on multiple slides in your presentation, depending on the level of detail you feel necessary to share for this client and their problem.

Once you have created a number of these case studies, consider collecting them in a single slide file so that they can easily be accessed for future presentations. Think about the top five or ten problems that you solve, and make sure you have a case study story that shows your expertise in each situation. By effectively using case studies and success stories, your presentation will be much more powerful.


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