Phase 2 of your case competition preparation begins when you’re issued the case.
Recognize that the nature of this case may differ from what you are accustomed to. It could be more incomplete and open-ended than the structured cases you’ve dealt with before.
In fact, it could be a contemporary real-world case with no “solution.” It could be a case crafted especially for the competition by the company sponsoring the competition.
Case Competition First Step
Your first step – your team members read the case once-through for general information and understanding, to inventory issues, and to define the magnitude of the task at hand. You are drawing a philosophical and psychological box around the case to encompass its main elements. Here, you make it manageable prevent time-burn in discussions of unnecessarily open-ended questions.
Discussion proceeds on defining the problem statement.
At this point, your expertise and skills gained in years of business schooling should guide you in developing your analysis and recommendations.
The difference in acumen and skill sets among teams in a competition is usually very small, so I assume that every business team will produce analytical results and recommendations that are capable of winning the competition. This includes your team, of course.
Victory or Defeat?
The quality of teams is high, and the output of analysis similar. This means that victory is rarely determined by the quality of the material itself. Instead, victory and defeat ride on the clarity, logic, power, and persuasiveness of the public presentation of that material. I have seen great analyses destroyed or masked by bad presentations.
The Presentation is the final battlefield where the competition is won or lost.
And so we devote minimum time on the preparation of your arguments. Many fine books can help you sharpen analysis. This post concerns how you translate your written results into a powerful presentation that is verbally and visually compelling.
We are concerned here with the key to your competition victory.
Here is your competitive edge: While 95 percent of teams will view their presentations as a simple modified version of the written paper that they submit, your team attacks the competition armed with the tools and techniques of Power Presenting. You understand that the presentation is a distinct and different communication tool than the written analysis.
Cut ’n’ Paste Combatants
Many teams cut-and-paste their written paper/summary into the presentation, unchanged. This usually makes for a heinous presentation that projects spreadsheets and bullet points and blocks of text on a screen. These monstrosities obscure more than they communicate. It is a self-handicap and a horrendous mistake.
Sure, at times you will see winning presentations that do this – I see them myself on occasion. This usually happens for one of several reasons, none of them having to do with the quality of the visual presentation . . .
1) Substance trumps: The business analysis and recommendation is substantially better than all other entries and overcomes deficiencies in presentation.
2) Mimicry: All entries utilize the same defective method of cutting-and-pasting the final report onto PowerPoint slides, thus leveling the playing field to a lowest common denominator of visual and verbal poverty.
Don’t present all the fruits of your analysis. Too much information and too many details can cripple your initial presentation. Remember that you should hold back details for use and explication during the Q&A period.
A parsimonious presentation should deliver your main points.
Deciding what to leave out of your initial presentation can be as important as deciding what to include and emphasize.
For in-depth training on the Case Competition, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.