This piece of advice is simple, but it can save you a lot of trouble.
Oftentimes, when you are assigned new work, you do not necessarily have to start working on it immediately – maybe the deadline is still far away, or you know it won’t take a lot of time, or some other topic needs to be finished first.
When you get a new piece of work – do a report, prepare a market analysis, crunch some numbers in Excel, etc. – whatever it is, try to get the first draft done as quickly as possible. Even if it is a shitty first draft (either because you don’t have time to do a better one, or because you don’t have all the necessary information yet, still waiting for parts from a colleague, etc. etc.).
Do that shitty draft. Quickly.
The concept of the “shitty first draft” is not mine – it is from the book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It is a simple argument: acknowledge that the first draft will be rubbish. This actually makes it easier to get started. Better to do something that needs a lot of rework than not doing anything at all.
In a way, this principle works in consulting as well. Seeing how something comes to be – your calculations, your report structure, your storyline – will help you to…
- make necessary adjustments – While it is still easy to do
- quickly see what questions you still need to ask – before it is awkward to do so, because you reveal how long you waited to tackle the problem
- identify what additional research needs to be done – while there is still time for it
So: get going on the first draft of any deliverable as soon as you can. It can save you a lot of trouble.Read More
Consultants do present in front of board rooms full of CXO’s the whole time, from Monday to Friday, even the most junior ones.
Nah, ‘course not. Most of the time, the Powerpoint slides you do never end up being projected on a wall, but rather emailed and printed. And, I hate to brake it to you, there are weeks when you don’t have a sit-in at the CEO’s office. He still calls you, of course, but that’s just a given. (If you haven’t noticed the tongue-in-cheek yet, for all its worth, go become a banker)
Still there regularly are occasions when you get to actually present. For those times, the right tools can kick your performance up a notch. There’s no use in gadgets without solid preparation – both of the material to be presented and the performance itself – but let’s assume that you did your homework for now.
Think about one of the last keynote presentation Steve Jobs gave. See what you don’t see? Right. He doesn’t stand there hunched over his laptop, clicking the slides forward.
He’s got a remote. You need one, too.
Maybe not the exact same one – that one costs you around 500 EUR minimum. It’s a great piece of tech, but for 99% of the settings… a bit over the top. But fear not, there are many affordable options out there.
What you want is a device that advances the slides on the push of a button, remotely. There are many option out there, the cheapest I saw cost about 25 EUR. I got myself a Logitech Presenter (about 60 EUR), mainly just to pamper myself, but there are some features I like:
- It has a built-in timer that gives you a countdown, an indication which quarter of your time you are in, and buzzes when you are about to run out of time: This saves me looking at the watch, plus I can glance at it relatively unnoticed.
- It has buttons to get the presentation started, to blank the screen and a switch on the side to control the volume of the computer – great when you are showing embedded video/audio files and the sound level is not perfect from the start.
- There’s a laser pointer embedded. I mostly use it to fool around, but it might come in handy.
- It has a three-level battery indicator which reduces guesswork
- The USB dongle fits inside the remote, so risk of losing it is minimized.
The basic feature set you are looking for, anyway: Slide forward / slide backward, a button to blank the screen as bonus. Don’t go for anything that just submits “left mouse click / right mouse click” – especially in consulting presentations, you almost always have to get back a few slides when questions pop up, and it’s worth nothing when on a right click the context menu pops up. Too much hassle.
What is in it for you?
- You can move about freely. Most often, you still look at the screen of your laptop to see the slide that is shown behind you, but now you don’t hunch over it like a hen protecting its eggs. This leads to…
- Better presence on stage. Your posture is a big part in how you are perceived as a presenter. Plus, it has a feel of professionalism to it when you don’t have to glance over to your colleague to have him click to the next slide or do it yourself.
- Last and most importantly: You are more relaxed while presenting. This cannot be paid in gold. When you are in front of the client, presenting the results of that big, expensive consulting project – you need all your mojo on the content and on your performance.