4 digital tools your consulting firm started using after you left

Consulting tools

Over the last 5 years, global consulting firms have increasingly focused on helping their clients with digital acceleration.  From measuring their digital maturity and reframing their strategy to implementing digital tools and processes, consulting firms are vying to capture more of their clients’ attention and spend. BCG developed a digital acceleration index, McKinsey invested in a Digital Labs group, and Bain launched BainDigital.com to showcase their capabilities.

While preaching a new digital approach to their clients, these firms have also invested in new digital tools for their consulting staff. In addition to improving productivity, these tools allow the firm to showcase their capabilities to clients. Based on conversations with numerous consultants across multiple firms, here are 4 new digital tools that are driving significant productivity gains:

Tableau

Tableau is an interactive data visualization software solution focused on business intelligence.

Source: Tableau

While static PowerPoint charts are still the mainstay of most presentations, Tableau is allowing consultants to make sense of large datasets. With Tableau, consultants can also dive into different data cuts in real time, helping create more conversational client interactions. However, Tableau does have a learning curve and effectively using large, complex datasets requires discipline and a strong analytical approach.

Slide-level search

Slide-level search is the process of finding individual ‘killer’ slides across many presentations

Source: TeamSlide

Consulting organizations have people, tools, and processes in place to help capture knowledge generated during each project. Over time, they have built a vault of PowerPoint presentations stored in large content repositories. These repositories are an important tool for consultants as they conduct research and prepare for new projects.

However, instead of searching for presentations and then flipping through them to find relevant slides, consultants have consistently asked for the ability to search for individual slides instead. With TeamSlide, we are proud to be helping a variety of firms enable slide-level access. Either through a web portal or through our even more powerful PowerPoint add-in, consultants now have access to their firm’s entire repository on a slide level.

Some firms have even extended this ability to the consultant’s desktop allowing them to find individual slides from presentations on their own computer.

Slack

Slack is a set of cloud-based instant messaging and collaboration tools

As projects grow more complex and the velocity of interactions increases, email and traditional web portal tools are proving to be too clunky. Slack provides instant access to your team’s interactions including chat conversations, notifications, and files. With consulting cases changing every few months, the use of Slack channels allows teams and subgroups to be quickly formed and no longer requires IT support. Further, slack integrates with a host of other services creating a seamless experience.

Cloud content management

Cloud content management is an online repository for all our files (e.g. Box, OneDrive)

Source: Box

While cloud storage is a pervasive solution in many industries, traditional consulting organizations have been slow to adopt it. However, over the last few years consulting firms have started to trust online solutions and many are now pushing their staff to keep content online rather than on their desktops. Box now offers advanced security measures that are building trust with consulting organizations.

Summary

If it’s been a few years since you’ve left consulting, the firm today is likely quite different than the firm you remember. If you still use tools that were first introduced to you while consulting, you may want to try some of the new ones above. As the focus on digital sharpens, consulting firms will continue to adopt new tools to increase productivity and showcase their capabilities to clients.

5 questions client relationship teams should ask before updating to SharePoint 2016

SharePoint 2016 updateClient relationship managers have to constantly keep track of their clients and their investment portfolios to ensure they receive the best possible service. This is among the constant need to work internally on standard distributed reports and one-off requests with portfolio managers, compliance officers, and the chief financial officer. SharePoint has proven to be an extremely useful tool for content management, making it easy for everyone on the team to quickly access the latest version of the content they need.

If your team is considering migrating to the new SharePoint 2016 (cloud or on-premise), here are 5 critical questions you should be asking.

1. Does your team need to upgrade SharePoint?

Migrating from one version of SharePoint to another is a significant undertaking. Before jumping in, consider if your client relations team even needs the upgrade.

Start by analyzing the reasons for an upgrade. For instance, with SharePoint 2016, zero downtime patching leads to increased resilience and there is also support for Office 365 and SharePoint hybrid search integration.

On the other hand, there can be several reasons not to upgrade. Your team may be perfectly satisfied with the current version, and as with all new software, there will be a learning curve to consider. That being said, if you are still using an older version of SharePoint including 2003, 2007, or 2010, note that Microsoft only provides mainstream support for 2010 SP1 and newer.

2. What data should you migrate?

Take a step back and plan out what data you’ll need to migrate to the new version of SharePoint. If you’ve had your old version for several years with a large number of users, you are bound to have stale data that no longer has any value. You might have clients you no longer work with or old investment portfolios and Excel sheets that aren’t relevant.

Migrating excess data not only increases the required time but also the costs related to physical storage and maintenance. Before diving into the migration, take a moment to clean your data repositories.

3. What do you do with your slide library?

If your team depends on SharePoint’s slide library, note that it was discontinued starting with SharePoint 2013.

A slide library is a set of PowerPoint slides that can be accessed individually and doesn’t require the user to first open a presentation. In addition to providing slide-level access, slide libraries will help manage slide versions and ensure that users always have the latest content.

If the slide library was critical for the way your team accessed PowerPoint content, you’ll have to consider a 3rd party solution. At TeamSlide, we offer a robust solution that works from within PowerPoint – you are welcome to see it in action. We’ve also previously written an article about the key considerations for replacing SharePoint’s slide library.

4. What upgrade path should you use?

With years of investment portfolios and client reports, your SharePoint environment may be too complicated for a complete native upgrade.

A native upgrade is an option made available from SharePoint 2013 onwards that allows databases to easily ‘detach’ from the old version and ‘attach’ to the new version. It’s a simple and direct process, but it’s only useful if you have a rather small and simple SharePoint environment with less than 500GB of data.

If you have a complicated environment or your total data is more than 500GB, consider a parallel upgrade option which involves building a SharePoint 2016 environment in parallel to the current version and then moving data from the old to the new version selectively. With this option, you are able to selectively choose what needs to be upgraded. Note that if you are upgrading from a SharePoint version lower than 2013, then the parallel upgrade is the only available option.

5. What level of security will you need?

Client relation teams should first review the service level agreements (SLAs) they have with their clients. As team members will likely be saving crucial investment and banking information on SharePoint, security will be a primary concern.

In addition to a better user experience, SharePoint 2016 will help you continue to comply with your SLAs. An automated migration follows the security of your older version, but be careful if you are initiating a manual migration. In addition, if you are considering a move to SharePoint Online, ensure that your client SLAs will allow for data to be stored in the cloud.

In conclusion

When updating to SharePoint 2016, client relation teams should first consider whether they need the update, clean up their data repositories, plan for the missing slide library, choose a migration strategy and also consider their security needs.

TeamSlide releases new desktop search offering

TeamSlide, a slide library solution, focuses on giving users incredibly easy and instant access to the specific PowerPoint content they need. Organizations have built slide libraries using TeamSlide or connected their existing content systems (e.g. SharePoint, Box, Dropbox, Google Drive). Through a PowerPoint add-in, users then securely access the shared repository to search, preview, and insert slides into their presentation.

As we worked across different industry verticals and functions, a consistent requirement was the need to search for slides on a user’s own computer. Users loved the ability to search a shared repository but they also needed slide-level access to all the content on their computer, including email.

Acting on this feedback and striving to improve TeamSlide, we are proud to announce that last month we released a new offering, TeamSlide Pro. TeamSlide Pro locally indexes all the presentations in selected folders and Outlook accounts making individual slides searchable through PowerPoint. All presentations and slides remain local and no content is sent to TeamSlide or any cloud service. The search is blazingly fast with the ability to pull up results in a fraction of a second. Users will no longer have to dig through presentations or rummage through emails to find the specific slide they need! TeamSlide Pro is already driving productivity at a number of firms that were part of the beta release.

You can access further information and request a trial here.

In addition, we have updated the TeamSlide logo to better represent our offering. The 3 squares represent the typical 16:9 and 4:3 slide sizes and the empty space between them forms a ‘T’. The squares will also consistently be used as a primary icon in the software.

Our original TeamSlide offering, now renamed TeamSlide Business, will continue to help organizations give their employees slide-level access to content stored in a shared repository. TeamSlide Business customers can add TeamSlide Pro to give their users slide-level access to all their content – shared or local.

Tired of digging for slides? Bring your content management system inside PowerPoint

Tired of digging for slides? Bring your content management system inside PowerPoint

SharePoint, Box, and other content management systems (CMSs) are a great solution to securely store and share your company documents. They provide online access, version control, metadata support among a host of other capabilities. CMSs allow marketing and sales teams to organize their PowerPoint assets by product, vertical, customer segment for easy search and retrieval.

However, accessing content from a CMS typically involves breaking your workflow from a productivity application (e.g. PowerPoint) to a separate interface. Further, the CMS interface may require several clicks before you find the content you are searching for.  This disruption is time-consuming and switching applications can disrupt your thought process.

CMSs are making progress in their integration with Microsoft Office products. For example, Box now allows users to simultaneously edit a Word document. Or, you can edit a document with Office 365 right in your browser.  Most CMSs include desktop sync applications that ensure folders on your computer mirror your online account.

Retrieving content from a CMS is still a tedious process. Further, for PowerPoint users, the problem is amplified as users are often looking for a particular slide rather than an entire presentation. Even after traversing their CMS to find a presentation, they dig through the presentation it to find the specific slide they need. SharePoint had a basic slide library solution that briefly solved this problem but it was deprecated a few years ago.  As a result, this enforces bad habits as users retrieve old versions of slides and presentations stored on their computer rather than the latest version available on the CMS. For sales reps, this can lead to out-of-date product information, old branding, and propagation of errors which ultimately impacts their ability to close deals. An alternative to SharePoint’s slide library, ideally a significantly improved version, is required to improve productivity.

At TeamSlide, we focus our efforts on providing a slide level search engine that works within PowerPoint. You can search, preview, and insert a slide into your active presentation without ever leaving PowerPoint. TeamSlide connects to a number of CMSs including SharePoint, Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive. Essentially bringing the CMS inside PowerPoint. Once connected, TeamSlide searches across presentations to surface the most relevant slides for your search.

For sales teams, TeamSlide allows you to quickly find a particular slide and build effective presentations. For marketing, TeamSlide offers a simple way to disseminate content while still leveraging your CMS. In addition, TeamSlide will check your slides against the central repository to ensure you always have the most up-to-date content.

Switching applications to find content is inefficient and promotes bad habits that can impact output quality. Bringing content systems inside productivity software is a natural step to solve this problem that can lead to significant benefits.

The 4 Key Elements of Winning Sales Presentations

Recently we spoke to Ian Jackson from Supreme Slides about creating sales presentations. To dramatically increase your chance of closing the deal (and blow your competition out of the water!), he shared 4 Key Elements that Supreme Slides recommends you include in your sales presentations:

#1:   Custom Design: Visuals & Infographics

Get their attention: to keep your audience actively engaged, complement your sales pitch with custom-designed visuals and infographics. Generic visuals can be bland, and fail to convey unique aspects of your value proposition. Custom designs can play a huge part in creating a unique, memorable experience.

Infographics are more engaging, easy to understand and recall. And they’re more likely to be shared online. They’re a concise, much more appealing way to quickly convey data, complex or large amounts of information.

Types of infographics include: flow charts, comparisons, maps, data visualizations.

#2:   Professional Copywriting

Edit, edit, edit: professional copywriters know how to eradicate ‘waffle’, quickly identify key information, and craft persuasive copy. Personally, I’m a big fan of getting specialists onboard to do what they do best, so that I can too!

Sure, you can write the copy yourself, but at the very least, it’s worth getting a copywriter to look at what you’ve written. Sometimes we can be too ‘close’ to our business, to know what wording will/won’t work in our presentations. Impartial advice can make all the difference.

#3:   Custom-made Video/Animated Video

Boredom-busters: breaking presentations up with video content can raise the energy level in a room, and the bright colors, movement and simple lines in animated videos can make complicated or potentially dull information, much more interesting.

For example, you could grab attention by kicking off your presentation with an introductory Video, and/or include a video testimonial which proves your value proposition.

It’s critical that the video content is highly relevant – which is why custom-made videos are preferable, and Videos shouldn’t be included just for novelty value.

Smarter not harder: Video can also be re-purposed, e.g. for social media, on websites, in webinars and blogs… So custom-made Video content can actually give you a lot of ‘bang for your buck’!

#4:   A Confident Presenter

Imagine everyone’s naked?? You can have every other element of your sales presentation sorted, but if you don’t feel confident about your presentation skills and ability to gain rapport, all your hard work might be wasted. ‘Fake it til you make it’ doesn’t work for everyone… Same goes for the advice to ‘imagine everyone’s naked’!

Presentation Coaching can achieve amazing results – everyone has the potential to become an assured, compelling speaker. If you aren’t one already, you can be. Sometimes just adjusting small things like body signals and tone of voice, can make a big difference.


Ian’s advice all boils down to this: you’re asking people to invest in your business, buy your product or use your service… To greatly increase the chance of them doing so, you need to invest in it too. By enlisting the help of a designer, copywriter and possibly a presentation coach, you’ll go into your next sales presentation feeling FAR more confident!

Connect with Ian Jackson on LinkedIn

Supreme Slides is a specialist presentation agency which creates visually stunning, persuasive sales presentations that get results

 

supreme-slides-logo
www.supremeslides.com

Integrate your slide library and CMS to manage your content in one place

Integrate your slide library and CMS to manage your content in one place

Most marketing and knowledge teams understand that managing a large number of PowerPoint files is a complex, time consuming task. The complexity grows significantly when managing individual slides. Slide library solutions greatly simplify the task by providing a central repository and allowing users to quickly find the slide or other PowerPoint asset they need. However, even the most robust slide library can’t replace a broader content management system (CMS) like SharePoint or Box. CMSs offer a broad range of capabilities that are helpful to diverse data sets; however, they lack the interface and in-depth PowerPoint features that a slide library or slide management solution provides. As a result, many organizations require both a CMS and a slide library.

For teams with a large PowerPoint repository, managing content across a CMS and slide library can be cumbersome. Typically, content is duplicated, and updating both sets requires manual steps that lead to errors. Further, access rights and other settings need to be aligned, creating inefficiencies. As a result, slide libraries that integrate or connect with CMSs and ensure they are automatically synced can unlock additional benefits.

What does the integration look like?

  • Slide library solutions can typically connect with a content repository using a standard protocol like CMIS
  • The slide library actively monitors the CMS for PowerPoint files, replicating the content along with the necessary metadata
  • Upon the first connection, the replication may take a while depending on the size of the repository
  • After the initial replication, only changes are captured
  • A tight connection ensures that both systems are consistently aligned

How does the integration help?

  • With the integration in place, only files in the CMS require management. All changes will automatically flow to the slide library, helping reduce the likelihood of introducing an error while saving manual effort
  • All the metadata defined in the CMS will also be passed to the slide library, thereby allowing for better search results
  • In some cases, access rights may also replicate, helping ensure tight control of content across the organization

Considerations during the integration

  • Check that any business rules that apply to your CMS can also be applied the slide library. For example, if you monitor file downloads to protect against data theft by employees, check that your slide library can send download data back to the CMS
  • Carefully select the content you want to make available through the slide library. While it may be tempting to make all your PowerPoint content available, applying a few filters will reduce the clutter and improve productivity
  • Ensure that the slide library can gracefully handle any errors that may occur during the replication. Errors should be logged and an appropriate team member contacted without impacting performance

TeamSlide’s slide management system integrates with a number of CMSs including SharePoint, Box, Dropbox, and Alfresco. Users can quickly connect their CMS to TeamSlide, making large repositories searchable on a slide level.

7 considerations when updating your PowerPoint template

7 considerations when updating your PowerPoint template
The PowerPoint template is an important component of an organization’s branding strategy and a critical vehicle to share information to prospects, leads, and even staff. While PowerPoint offers multiple standard templates, most firms require a custom design to effectively meet their branding requirements. We often interact with customers who have recently updated their templates, and through this interaction we have learned several lessons:

1. Build templates for all slide types and uses

Before creating your templates, catalog all the slide types you need:

  • While title slides are important, take a moment to think through the other types of slides you might also regularly need, e.g. agenda, one large chart, two small charts, customer feedback/quotes, biographies
  • Will you require different templates for different presentation types? E.g. internal vs. external, by vertical, by function

Performing this step will prevent your team from editing the template and adversely affecting your branding.

2. Use safe fonts to ensure a consistent performance

Selecting an appropriate font set for your template that conveys the characteristics that align with your business can be an artistic endeavor. However, you may want to limit your choice to safe fonts that are commonly available in different PowerPoint installations. This selection will ensure your presentation looks the same across different computers.

 3. Limit the ink required

Although it may seem rare, printing presentations is actually still common in some industries, including management consulting. If your template uses a colored banner behind every slide title, you’ll end up consuming a lot of ink. Instead consider underlining the title to leave more white space.

4. Watch the file size

Images are powerful tools to convey emotions and quickly make your point. When selecting images for your template, determine the minimum resolution required. High resolution images can quickly increase the size of your presentation, making it difficult to share with others and potentially cumbersome to edit on older, slow computers.

5. Use the opportunity to formalize your visuals

Beyond slides you might also consistently need specific images, charts, specific text blocks, and logos. If you are updating and disseminating a new slide template, you may find synergies in also collecting and refreshing all your visuals.

6. Use a slide library to share the templates with your team

If your template is small and simple, follow these instructions to make it easily accessible in PowerPoint. However, if you have a detailed collection of slides and visuals, consider a slide library solution to disseminate the slides and ensure adoption.

We have previously written about slide library best practices and the trade-offs between browser and add-in based solutions. In addition, if you’re using SharePoint 2013, the slide library feature is no longer supported and you’ll need an alternative.

7. Hire professional designers

If your budget allows, consider engaging professional presentation designers. These experts can apply a wealth of experience to build a custom, detailed template package that tightly fits within your brand requirements.

Our top 10 priceless presentation tips for event speakers

We all know there’s more to a brilliant presentation than well written words.

“When I think about compelling presentations, I think about taking an audience on a journey. A successful talk is a little miracle—people see the world differently afterward.” — Chris Anderson

The best kind are transformative, for the speaker and the audience — words and their delivery have real power. Whether you often get nervous during presentations or are a seasoned speaker, these public speaking tips and tricks will equip you for any event that comes your way!

Creating the content

Structure your presentation around a story

A great story is at the heart of every great presentation. Why? Because ‘humans are wired to listen to stories’. Narratives and metaphors place audiences into the shoes of the protagonist — it encourages the audience to have a vested interest in the presentation. When you’re creating your presentation, structure the content around a central story, following a rough path of problem to aha moment to solution.

Create an image rich, text light presentation

Everyone can remember an instance where presentation slides were a let down. Perhaps there was too much text to read. Perhaps the images were distracting and misaligned to the content. While a great presentation is essential, getting it right is all about the balance.

When creating your presentation, keep your text to the minimum — there’s nothing more mindnumbing than a presenter who just reads off the slides! An image rich, text light presentation is a win. Useful resources for sourcing free and high quality stock images include: Pixabay, Pexels and Unsplash.

Making your content accessible

As a professional speaker, there are times where you’re required to present at multiple venues across different cities or countries – and there’s nothing worse than losing a copy of your most up-to-date presentation right before an event. Whether it’s a version control issue, a misplaced USB drive or a laptop crashing on you, having a plan B is key to avoiding any hiccups.

TeamSlide’s integration with Powerpoint means that your slides can be uploaded and downloaded from the cloud with a single click. And with our intelligent algorithms, searching for specific content becomes incredibly easy so you’re not flipping through every deck you’ve ever created. Manage all your content on one platform and make it easy to access your content anywhere and on any device.

Pre presentation

So you’ve got your presentation in tip top shape for the big day. In the precious few minutes before walking on stage, there are few habits you should adopt.

Drink warm or room temperature water, with lemon

We’ve all been there — nerves can make your throat do all sorts of things. Warm or room temperature, coupled with a splash of lemon, can help alleviate the throat dryness. Where possible, ditch the ice cold water, carbonated drinks and dairy products which all exacerbate those issues.

Talk to as many people as possible

Does the thought of speaking in front of so many faceless strangers still give you the tingles? The best way to conquer this is to simply talk to the audience — as many people as you can before the presentation. As you put more names to faces, you may even gain ideas and

At the end of the day, audience and speaker interaction is a win — engaged audiences are the best kind. Consider whether your presentation will have a Q&A component or a live polling feature.

Smile

During nerve wracking moments, the first instinct is to frown. However, this is the opposite of what you should do. Smiling, even when you don’t feel like it, helps trigger endorphins, relax muscles and calm nerves.

Presentation delivery

After all that preparation and practice, it’s time for delivering your presentation. Truth is, delivery can make or break your presentation. When you’re on that stage, keep these three factors in mind.

Eye contact

The success of delivery is all in how well you can immerse your audience in the story you’re telling — and there’s nothing like eye contact to really engage and connect with your audience. Choose a handful of people scattered across the room, potentially people you’ve met before, to maintain eye contact with throughout. Ensure you don’t focus on just one segment of the audience (or even worse, just one individual) — it’s obvious and disconcerting.

Confidence boosting poses

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy has performed extensive research on how “body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves”. There are several body postures you can do before, during and after to boost your confidence and get you in the right mindset.

Move on stage

Avoid standing in a single spot throughout the whole presentation. Try not to pace back and forth, treading over the same pattern either – as this may seem rehearsed and forced. Instead, let the delivery look and feel natural by letting movement be guided by your speech and the audience’s reaction – it’s okay to stand at parts and move during others. Treat your movement like you would if you were having a conversation with friends or family.

Take note of hand gestures

Did you know: hands open with palms open convey certainty in what you’re talking about.

We all know body language plays a big part in how people perceive you. One of the best presentation tips you can try is to simply change up your hand gestures. As you practice your presentation, keep an eye out for how you naturally use hand gestures and alter where appropriate to emphasise a point.

Involve your audience

Communication is a two way street. Yes, you’re the main event when presenting but if you’re talking ‘at’ your audience there’s a good chance they’ll tune out quickly. Instead, get your audience to sit up, lean in and be active participants – ask them questions, hear their comments and don’t be afraid to veer slightly from your slides if a point of interest comes up.

Apps like Zeetings are a great option to involve shy audience members, allowing them to add comments or ask questions anonymously.

Over to you

Have you got a presentation around the corner? Whether it’s an internal meeting or a large conference, a great presentation can be transformative and influential. What are your public speaking tips and tricks for delivering an ovation worthy presentation? Share in the comments below!


This post was authored by Robert Kawalsky of Zeetings

rob-kawalskyRobert Kawalsky
Cofounder and CEO, Zeetings

Robert Kawalsky is the CEO and Cofounder of Zeetings, a software company changing the way people present their ideas to the world. Kawalsky is also an active investor and advisor to technology and internet related businesses.

Slide library: Browser vs. Add-ins

PowerPoint slide libraries are an effective way for organizations to centrally store and manage their slides, presentations and other PowerPoint assets. The content can be delivered to the end user through two primary channels:

Browser

The user switches from PowerPoint to their browser to search and find content. Typically, multiple pieces of content are found, arranged and exported into a new presentation.

Pros Cons
  • Doesn’t require installation of any software on the user’s computer
  • The large browser window allows for easy access to large number of functions/features
  • Ability to convert to PDF to lock content
  • Typically breaks the user’s workflow as they have to switch from PowerPoint to the browser and back
  • Difficult to naturally build and edit a deck
  • Can’t insert content in line with the active presentation
  • Limited ability for users to share new content

Bottom line
For heavy PowerPoint content creators, the browser method can be very cumbersome and adoption is typically poor. However, for users that only need occasional access to content that doesn’t require significant changes or shuffling the browser can be effective. In addition, browser access can be quickly rolled out as no additional software is required on the end user’s computer.

Add-in

The user can search, insert, and share content directly from within PowerPoint. The add-in is typically launched from the existing PowerPoint menu and exists only within the PowerPoint frame.

Pros Cons
  • In line with the user’s workflow causing no disruption; easy to search, add, delete, share content on the fly
  • Very easily insert into and share content from the active presentation
  • Great to naturally build and edit presentation
  • Can be augmented by a browser for less-used features
  • Requires installation of software on the user’s computer

Bottom line
A PowerPoint add-in makes most use-cases remarkably simple and is especially useful for PowerPoint content creators. The add-in does require installation but for large organizations this can typically be done silently (in the background) with some help from IT.

At TeamSlide, the add-in is a critical part of our offering as for most use-cases it offers a simple, easy workflow. We use the browser to augment our add-in with more administrative-focused features (e.g. batch edit slides, change access rights). However, we believe that search, insert, and share are better implemented through an add-in that delivers a seamless experience to users.