The key to doing well in case competitions is to differentiate yourselves beforehand by following you case competition guide, before you ever travel to the site of the competition.
Before they ever give you the sealed envelope with your business case enclosed.
This is much easier than you might imagine, and you begin by consulting your case competition guide.
The Three Ps of Business Presentations provide a roadmap to ready you for your competition.
Principles . . . Preparation . . . Practice
You don’t start tuning your instrument for the first time when it’s time to perform a concert, and likewise, you don’t begin honing your presentation skills when it’s time to present. By the time of your competition, all of your team members ought to be thoroughly grounded in the principles of especially powerful presentations.
The principles offered here in this case competition guide.
This part of your competition prep should already be accomplished, with only a few review sessions to ensure everyone is sharp on the Seven Secrets: Stance . . . Voice . . . Gesture . . . Expression . . . Movement . . . Appearance . . . Passion.
Our case competition guide divides the preparation for the competition into three phases.
Phase 1: Lead-in to the Competition
You are made aware of the competition’s rules. You acknowledge and embrace the rules and what they imply. Your entire team should become intimately familiar with the parameters of the competition – think metaphorically and spacially.
Recognize that the problem has length and breadth and depth. Understand the finite limits of the context presented to you, what you can and cannot do. Think of it as an empty decanter that you fill with your analysis and conclusions on the day of the competition.
Later, upon receiving the actual Case, you will conduct the same process – recognize that the Case Problem has length and breadth and depth.
But now, prior to the competition, take stock of what you already know you must do . . . and then do most of it beforehand as the rules permit.
This includes embracing the problem situation long before you arrive on-site for a competition and before you receive the case in question. Learn the parameters of the context in which you will operate. The case competition guide breaks the competition environment into discrete elements:
Length of presentation
Total time available (set-up, presenting, Q&A, Close-out)
Number of presenters allowed or required
Visuals permitted or required
Sources you may use, both beforehand and during the problem-solving phase
You know that you will be required to provide analysis of a case and your results and recommendations. Why not prepare all that you can before you arrive at the competition?
Some competitions may frown on this or forbid it . . . fine, then do it when you can, at the first point that it is permissible. This way, you can spend the majority of your case analysis time filling in the content.
Follow the Case Competition Guide
Prepare your slide template beforehand according to the principles expounded here.
Business presentations have a small universe of scenarios and limited number of elements that comprise those scenarios. A well-prepared team that is composed of team members from different functional areas will have generic familiarity with virtually any case assigned in a competition. The team should have no problems dealing with any case it is presented.
Determine beforehand who will handle – generally – the presentation tasks on your team as well as the analytical portions of your case. The following is offered as an example of how the task might be approached:
As part of this initial process, prepare your slide template with suitable logos, background, killer graphics, and charts and graphs requiring only that the numbers be filled in.
Leading into the competition, it’s essential that your team be familiar with sources of data that you may be permitted to utilize in conducting your case analysis – market research, industry surveys, and such like. Familiarity with online databases like Business Source Premier, Mergent Online, and S&P NetAdvantage is necessary since not all schools may have access to the data sources you use most often.
No Place for the Unprepared
With respect to the delivery or your presentation itself, a case competition is neither time nor place for you to polish your delivery skills. You should have honed them to razor’s edge by now. As well, your orchestration as a team should be perfected before arriving at the site of the competition.
At the competition, you lift your performance to the next level in terms of application of all the principles, precepts, and hard skills you have applied in business school – finance, accounting, marketing, operations, strategy, analysis – and you apply them in a tightly orchestrated and professional presentation that pops.
If you have engaged the case competition guide successfully during the lead-up to the competition, then your taut case-cracking team will be ready when you are finally issued the case. A team ready to address the issues involved in the case problem.