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A Consultant's Guide to Professional PowerPoint Presentations

Becoming a more effective presenter requires balancing many elements. To achieve the desired outcome, we created a practical guide for consultants at every level of their careers. It is drawn from our extensive experience working with countless slides to help you be more effective and create the right impression for your clients and stakeholders.

Grunt Team
June 29, 2023



Picture this: You're staring at the dreaded blank page, attempting to prepare for a looming presentation deadline that's causing you anxiety and stress. The task at hand is daunting – developing compelling content, designing visually appealing slides, and delivering a high-impact presentation to your clients, an audience of senior executives.

With all of this on your plate, you may question why a PowerPoint presentation is necessary and worth the effort. The answer lies in the way our brains process information. In today's world, where so much is competing for our attention, consultants must be able to distill complex ideas and data into an
engaging and comprehensible format.

A professionally crafted and delivered PowerPoint presentation is a great tool to achieve this, as it can enhance engagement, improve understanding, and inspire action. However, even the most skilled consultants can face challenges that impede the quality of their final output.

Time constraints, design issues, and technical difficulties are just a few of the pain
points that can arise. We have compiled some actionable tips and best practices for overcoming these challenges and creating a dynamic and engaging presentation that will leave a lasting impression on your clients or stakeholders, no matter your level of expertise.


1. Understanding your Audience

Every audience is unique, so to engage and communicate effectively, it's crucial to tailor your presentation to their needs and preferences. Understanding your audience's specific interests, concerns, and requirements is critical to creating a personalized experience that enhances engagement and impact. For example, If your audience is composed of business executives, you may present your message in a clear, concise, and data-driven way, with a focus on strategic and
financial implications. By focusing on what matters most to your audience, you can build trust, maintain interest, and leave a lasting impression.

Whether you're giving a pitch, delivering training, or reporting analytics, customizing your presentation accordingly can make all the difference. To effectively frame and structure your presentation, consider the key message you want your audience to retain and the intended action you want them to take. Think about the format of a story and use a three-part framework: introduction, body, and conclusion.

Framing and structuring your presentation ensures clear communication and audience engagement. In the introduction, capture your audience's attention and provide an overview. Make sure you are short and concise. Nothing is worse than a crowded slide filled with too many details. You don't want to lose your audience before you even start. In the body, present your main points clearly and logically using visual aids and interesting examples. In conclusion, summarize your points and reinforce your message with a strong closing statement or call to action. 

However, if you expect that you might be derailed by questions or run out of time, don't bury the lede. Jump straight to your conclusions, and gradually build up the story by adding details. The structure should always be tailored to the audience and the context of your presentation.

In addition, to craft a presentation that genuinely resonates with your audience and meets expectations, you have to identify what makes them tick by conducting research. For example, you could gather information on senior executives by leveraging your professional network and their activities on social media like LinkedIn to understand their backgrounds, interests, preferences, and accessibility needs. This understanding will help you frame your presentation's tone, format, and content, making it relevant and impactful. To gather this information, you can use various research methods, such as surveys, questionnaires, and social media analysis. Remember that obtaining consent is essential when collecting and using personal data for research, so it's important to inform participants about the research purpose, data collection, and use and offer an opt-out or withdrawal option.


2. Engaging audience


Once you have thoroughly understood your audience, it’s time to focus on engaging them and delivering an impactful presentation. Here are some effective strategies to achieve this:


• Spark curiosity and excitement

To engage your audience and prompt active listening, start with an opening statement or question that sparks curiosity. Complement your message with visuals like images, videos, and charts to add depth and excitement. Interactive elements such as polls and activities will encourage participation and investment in your message. Use stories and real-life examples to create an emotional connection with your audience. Add appropriate humor to break down barriers and create a relaxed atmosphere, making your message more accessible and memorable.

• Win them over with excellent communication

Communication is vital when presenting to an audience. Keep it simple and avoid technical jargon that may overwhelm your listeners. Varying the tone and pace of your speech is essential to keep the audience engaged and attentive. You can emphasize key points, create suspense, and infuse your message with passion and emotion by changing your delivery's pace, tone, and rhythm. Being relatable is an excellent way to build rapport and demonstrate empathy. And by sharing your own experiences that relate to the topic you're presenting, the audience feels understood and establishes trust.

• Leave a positive lasting impression 

Summarize your presentation with a clear and concise message to ensure audience retention. Encourage questions and feedback to clarify understanding and reinforce your message. End with a strong call to action that provides clear direction and highlights the practical value of your presentation, especially in a business context where persuasion is critical.


People don’t want to listen to a presentation. They want to participate in a conversation.

- Chris Anderson, Curator of TED Talks


3. Crafting Effective Slides


To design effective slides, it is important to consider principles such as simplicity, clarity, consistency, and accessibility. A simple design template with minimal text and visual noise, combined with clear language, can amplify the quality of communication. Maintaining consistency in layout, color scheme, and font type throughout the presentation results in a professional and cohesive presentation that is easy for the audience to follow. Accommodating accessibility requirements, such as color contrasts, captions, and alternative text for non-textual elements, can create an inclusive presentation.

The design elements you choose can significantly impact the effectiveness of your presentation. For instance, readability is crucial when selecting fonts, so clean and simple options like Arial or Helvetica work well. High-quality visuals, such as images or videos, can support the content, enhance the message, and make it more memorable.

When selecting colors, fonts, and visuals, it's crucial to consider the message and emotions you want to convey. For example, an environmental presentation may use earth tones and natural textures, while a presentation on luxury may use bold colors and elegant fonts. Incorporating the client's brand colors can also reinforce brand identity and strengthen the impact of your message. Similarly, complementary colors create a bold impact, while a monochromatic palette can create a more minimalist look. Generally, effective design should be inclusive, brand-aligned, and reinforce the message.


Table for Good and Bad Design


Now let's see some real-life examples of the differences between compelling and captivating slides and poorly crafted slides that you will, unfortunately, find in many meetings.

As you will probably notice instantly, a "wrong" slide represents a plain and uninspiring list of items with just numbers and too many points. On the other hand, the "correct" slide showcases two key KPIs - Revenue and Gross Margin clearly and prominently. The information displayed on the side offers valuable insights and a better understanding of these two categories. Remember, the first slide is usually the most important one as it sets the tone for the entire presentation, captivating your audience's interest in what lies ahead.



In the example below, you will find that a "wrong" slide contains many icons that are the only thing you focus on. Make sure that you draw attention to the figures, not this type of visuals. The correct slide has a consistent visual feel focusing on the numbers, clearly visible units, and trends for important comparisons. It contains short and concise comments, where the author also used colors to separate groups and sub-KPIs.



Always consider whether adding color helps your slide. And the reason for that, as you will see in this case of the wrong slide, is that color is not adding too much. It is distracting and has no value in showing the data. Ensure not to add colors to the header (e.g., the blue header could have been grey). On the correct slide, key elements are highlighted with brand color; for the rest, they used shades of grey. This is a great way to guide the reader’s focus. In this case, it is really easy to spot that Nordic is the company you should focus on.




4. Transforming Presenting Anxiety into Confidence


Delivering a confident presentation requires a combination of skills and techniques, starting with meticulous preparation. To prepare, ensure that you are comfortable with the content and timing of your presentation. Practice with friends and colleagues, and be receptive to constructive feedback to help you refine your delivery. Such feedback can also help you anticipate potential questions so that you’re equipped with compelling responses.

Developing effective communication skills is also crucial to presenting with confidence. When speaking, do so with clear and simple language. Also, remember that passion is contagious so demonstrate enthusiasm for your topic and have fun. You can convey passion by speaking with conviction and connecting with your audience through creative storytelling and interactive activities. Effective communication also includes your non-verbal cues, so be aware of your body language i.e. stand up straight, make eye contact, and use natural gestures to engage with your audience.

Managing nerves and anxiety during a presentation can challenge your confidence during a presentation. However, some techniques can help you feel more grounded and centered. Deep breathing exercises, visualization techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness meditation, regular exercise, and talking to someone you trust are all effective ways to manage symptoms. When facing anxiety in the context of a presentation, remember that the feeling is normal, and managing anxiety takes practice and patience. So, try different techniques and see what works best for you.

Experienced consultants engage their audience with storytelling, interactive activities, and visuals such as charts, graphs, and diagrams. They also use probing questions to foster critical thinking and rely on a data-driven approach to amplify the impact of their message. They ensure a successful presentation by understanding their audience and delivering with excellent communication and confidence.




A professional PowerPoint presentation is a powerful tool for consultants to effectively communicate ideas and data, establish credibility, and gain the client's trust. A well-prepared presentation engages and inspires your audience, persuading them to act on your message. In today's competitive consulting environment, a professionally crafted and delivered PowerPoint presentation can help you stand out from the crowd. By creating a more captivating, insightful, and informative presentation, you can set yourself apart, gain a competitive edge, and leave a positive impression on your clients that lasts long after the curtains close. So, the next time you're creating a presentation, use this short checklist as a guide to ensure that your presentation is engaging, effective, and impactful:


• Understand your Audience:


How well do you know your audience? What do they care about, what do they need, and how to tailor your content and delivery accordingly?

• Craft effective slides by applying correct design principles:

Are your slides simple, clear, consistent, and accessible? Are the design elements you’ve chosen indicative of good or bad design? If you are unsure, you can always return to our examples.

• Present with Confidence:


And finally, are you familiar with the content you're presenting? Practice techniques for managing anxiety.

For more practical tips for creating presentations, watch our webinars. In the meantime, happy presenting!


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