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Strategic Storytelling: How to Create Persuasive Business Presentations

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“Strategic Storytelling” is a complete guide to creating persuasive business presentations. Based on intensive study of presentations developed by leading management consulting firms, this step-by-step playbook shows you how to craft stories using proven narrative frameworks, design data-driven slides, and master your verbal and non-verbal delivery.


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“Strategic Storytelling” is a complete guide to creating persuasive business presentations. Based on intensive study of presentations developed by leading management consulting firms, this step-by-step playbook shows you how to craft stories using proven narrative frameworks, design data-driven slides, and master your verbal and non-verbal delivery.

30 review for Strategic Storytelling: How to Create Persuasive Business Presentations

  1. 4 out of 5

    Arun Divakar

    In my sphere of work, a lot of time is spent in tinkering with the Microsoft office suite. Both Excel and PowerPoint are used & abused to equal measure and Word comes as a close second. If you have worked on slide shows and have presented them then you know how much value an airtight presentation commands. Even if you are someone who does not have too much flair while presenting stuff, a solid slide deck will pretty much stand up on its own and let you get away with it. If however all you have i In my sphere of work, a lot of time is spent in tinkering with the Microsoft office suite. Both Excel and PowerPoint are used & abused to equal measure and Word comes as a close second. If you have worked on slide shows and have presented them then you know how much value an airtight presentation commands. Even if you are someone who does not have too much flair while presenting stuff, a solid slide deck will pretty much stand up on its own and let you get away with it. If however all you have is an assortment of odds and ends glued together as a slide deck then pretty much nothing can save you. There have been experiences of both these sorts in my life and these learnings have made me appreciate the fine art of making a presentation much more. I’ve also had the luck of working with a couple of guys who were really talented at the art of putting together a sensible, no-bullshit presentation in a short timeframe. Never having read a book on this topic, I picked this one up at random but wasn’t all too impressed with the contents. It is not that the book is a bad one, it is just that for professionals who spend a lot of time drafting and redrafting presentations there isn’t much of original material in this book to take back to the workplace. The premise is a project that the United States Postal Service (USPS) wanted to undertake to see how they can boost their sagging revenues. USPS entrusts three different consultancies : Boston Consulting Group (BCG), McKinsey & Co. and Accenture to work on this project. The author picks up the final products in the form of PowerPoint presentations from all three of the firms and shares perspectives on the good, the bad and the ugly about all three of them. For sake of explanation, assume that you have a business problem and need to find an optimal solution for it. Once the ground work is complete, a solution can be presented generically in three formats : •Situation-Complication-Resolution Framework : The progression of slides begins with the situation at hand being explained followed by the complications it has brought into the system. In the gap of both these stages, the presenter goes through the issues faced, the variables in the equation, how it affects the system and what it all means. By the end of phase II the audience should have an understanding of the depth, breadth and scope of the issue they are facing. Then you proceed to recommendations for resolution and either try building a consensus or have the stakeholders take a decision. This follows a very logical method of presenting findings and is quite pragmatic. •Approach – Results – Implications Framework : Combine phases I & II from the earlier version and you have the approach phase of this framework. So you have the background, the limitations and the approach followed in coming up with these. The results and outcomes are presented and the last phase is when you get to the implications of the findings and the solutions you can have for the same. The approach followed is different but the outcome remains the same as the first approach. •Situation – Opportunity - Resolution Framework: With minor modifications, this too follows approach #1. After going through the situation at hand and the opportunities that are there for refinement or change, the resolution to the issue is presented. A new coat of paint to an otherwise used approach. With experience and knowledge of subject matter, a user will get to figuring out what would be the best framework to use for a particular scenario. It also will do a world of difference to understand your audience and tweak your slide deck to suit their requirements. Dave Mickinsey extrapolates on these frameworks and also on the use of visual and non-visual aids and how they can strengthen your presentation. All very valid points but there are some flaws that hamper the overall effectiveness of the book. The entire book is built around the presentations for the USPS project. It is blatantly obvious that the author is biased towards the McKinsey presentation and keeps on waxing eloquent about their presentation. It is page upon page of McKinsey has been known to do this, Look at how McKinsey did this, McKinsey dazzles with this and that and so on. Look, if you know the consulting business landscape then it is clear that McKinsey is very good at what they do and you really don’t have to write a book that rubs your face in that fact. Secondly, the author seems to have taken a dislike for BCG’s presentation and we go off again on pages upon pages of why BCG’s fonts are wrong, why their charts don’t look nice, why their usage of the English grammar is incorrect and so on. For a book that is supposed to handle best practices for building presentations, such nit-picking is absolutely frivolous and absurd. Thirdly, the logic is mostly built around the whole USPS presentation and sometimes the author seems to discover logical points in the slides that appear too well suited to his points. I am not sure if he saw the presentations and made his theory or the other way round. Finally, the scenarios that the author explains are almost all rooted in the management consultancy space and this narrows down the scope of this book to the microscopic. Most of the methods, approaches and tips that come up in the book can perhaps never be applied in other fields or the author fails to explain how they can be customized to suit our requirements. From a strictly professional POV, I find this book to lack the kind of ROI for the time I invested in it. This book could have easily been titled ‘Much ado about nothing’ if Shakespeare hadn’t stolen the title. It is a long book about one single presentation topic !

  2. 4 out of 5

    Leona

    Mislabeled. This isn't about how to build persuasive business presentations, it's a recap of the work done by consultants for the USPS lagging sales. It's not horrible, but there isn't a lot you can sink you teeth into, and it's rather boring. Mislabeled. This isn't about how to build persuasive business presentations, it's a recap of the work done by consultants for the USPS lagging sales. It's not horrible, but there isn't a lot you can sink you teeth into, and it's rather boring.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elena Leonova

    For some of you who need to create slide decks at work to explain your idea, propose changes and recommend actions, this is the best book. I've been trying to find my own way of explaining those things to the rest of the audience, but this book has most of these secrets explain here, and it's so much easier to do so now. I wish I came across this book years ago. For some of you who need to create slide decks at work to explain your idea, propose changes and recommend actions, this is the best book. I've been trying to find my own way of explaining those things to the rest of the audience, but this book has most of these secrets explain here, and it's so much easier to do so now. I wish I came across this book years ago.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Pedro

    Should be renamed to: "How to create ONE Powerpoint" Should be renamed to: "How to create ONE Powerpoint"

  5. 4 out of 5

    Carsten Friedrich

    This is a difficult book to review, as some parts are very good while others are very bad. The good bits: The book explains and illustrates the "Situation-Complication-Resolution" story telling technique based on 3 example presentations by renowned consulting agencies. The SCR technique itself seems to be based on or directly taken from the the book "The Minto Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing, Thinking, & Problem Solving" by Barbabra Minto. If you have to give business presentations, this techni This is a difficult book to review, as some parts are very good while others are very bad. The good bits: The book explains and illustrates the "Situation-Complication-Resolution" story telling technique based on 3 example presentations by renowned consulting agencies. The SCR technique itself seems to be based on or directly taken from the the book "The Minto Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing, Thinking, & Problem Solving" by Barbabra Minto. If you have to give business presentations, this technique is very relevant and the book does a good job at explaining it. The bad bits: Everything else about and in the book. The structure and narrative is a mess (which is kind of ironic) and the material which is not directly about the SCR technique is mostly trivial. It feels like the author had to meet a minimum word count and was desperately running out of time and material. In summary: If the title was a bit more specific to what the book does well, i.e. explaining the SCR technique, and the book itself reduced to those parts, it would be 5 stars. As it is, still 4. Just.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Georgi Yanakiev

    A guide rather than a book A bit too stretchy advices in most chapters which makes it difficult to get practical knowledge which can be applied in real life.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    An examination of business presentation techniques created by examining three public domain slide decks by McKinsey (no relation), Deloitte, and Accenture that were all written for the US postal service. I mostly enjoyed Section One, where we went through the decks and compared structures chosen by the three firms. It did get a little old looking at business slides after a while. Section Two talked in depth about various components of presentations, like graphs and images. This section felt mostl An examination of business presentation techniques created by examining three public domain slide decks by McKinsey (no relation), Deloitte, and Accenture that were all written for the US postal service. I mostly enjoyed Section One, where we went through the decks and compared structures chosen by the three firms. It did get a little old looking at business slides after a while. Section Two talked in depth about various components of presentations, like graphs and images. This section felt mostly obvious, although there were a few good pointers. The extremely short Section Three covered the act of presenting and was quite valuable. I wish this section had been longer. Overall, a decent reference for creating business presentations (as opposed to keynotes). It didn’t blow me away, but I got some useful stuff here.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jomeow

    This book came to me at a great timing. It’s a book on public speaking in business settings, which "integrates content, design and delivery", and is "steeped in the principles of storytelling". I have such needs at work, I am really interested in learning how the great consulting firms do their work. Like the author says in the “Final Words”, “strategic storytelling is mostly about what you do before you actually speak to a group”, which, in my words, is the preparation that includes doing resea This book came to me at a great timing. It’s a book on public speaking in business settings, which "integrates content, design and delivery", and is "steeped in the principles of storytelling". I have such needs at work, I am really interested in learning how the great consulting firms do their work. Like the author says in the “Final Words”, “strategic storytelling is mostly about what you do before you actually speak to a group”, which, in my words, is the preparation that includes doing research and analysis, consolidating and organizing the findings related to the problem, and designing how to deliver it. Then deliver the "story". The book is therefore divided into these three components, persuasive content, data-driven design and confident delivery. I find the first part most valuable. It is basically explaining the SCR (Situation, Complication, and Resolution) framework with some variations, a thinking technique I can also apply to a lot of my work and life problems. The author's detailed and structure analysis the the three big consulting firms' presentation slides helped me understand their logics better. Yes, although the second part is about specific design tips, and it may not be as useful and helpful as the first part, the book is still quite helpful to me.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Christian

    Rahter basic book with a lot of trivial stuff, which might be useful to some people who were locked in a basement for the past 15 years without contact to the outer world. My favourite trivial recommendations: Use large fonts Have contrast between text and background ... You do not really learn strategic stroytelling in this book. It's just 1) the story of a case from three perspectives 2) some tips how to build presentations (basic) 3) even more basic tips on how to present. Might be a good glossar Rahter basic book with a lot of trivial stuff, which might be useful to some people who were locked in a basement for the past 15 years without contact to the outer world. My favourite trivial recommendations: Use large fonts Have contrast between text and background ... You do not really learn strategic stroytelling in this book. It's just 1) the story of a case from three perspectives 2) some tips how to build presentations (basic) 3) even more basic tips on how to present. Might be a good glossar though for people who are new to presentations and come from a non-business background, as it introduces e.g. MECE, SMART titles, decision trees, etc.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Abdulaziz Hasan

    Ok, I feel this is a kind of books that should be included in your career bootstrapping materials. But the content is too tense to be read in relaxing times. It truly needs some effort to go over all the book but totally worth it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Todd Cheng

    A Use Case In Making Slides I was not pleased with the flow or topic. The narrative is an unfolding of a business case for improving the postal service and using the slides of a few of the larger consulting companies.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Poon

    mundane and basic, didn't get much from this this mundane and basic, didn't get much from this this

  13. 5 out of 5

    Homer

    I want to read it again! Good read for busy professionals. Still, need other books for a more detailed discussions. Hope David will also issue practice set and or workbook.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Craig Rodgers

    Well structured read Finally a book on presentation substance over style. Would recommend to grads/junior staff prepping for first major presentation. Easy well structured read

  15. 5 out of 5

    Juan Manuel Vera

    Very good and useful Great book with a lot of examples and good advises to use in your presentations. Instead of this book is from 10 years ago is 95% updated. .

  16. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    As exciting as a book about PowerPoint could be. More seriously this had tons of good thoughts on putting together compelling presentations.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Aki Miki

    To be honest. I didn't expect much. However, it was very interesting to compare and evaluate the proposals of three prominent consulting firms. To be honest. I didn't expect much. However, it was very interesting to compare and evaluate the proposals of three prominent consulting firms.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sharad

    Absolutely must read. Dave provides clear rules for creating a presentation. This book can be a guide for anyone starting their journey on storytelling, especially through PowerPoint presentations.

  19. 4 out of 5

    EG Gilbert

    I have several issues with “Strategic Storytelling” by Dave McKinsey, paperback edition 2014. It’s an attempt to use three related PowerPoint presentations to the United States Postal Service as examples of presentation structure and design. First, there isn’t enough content to make an entire book. There is some good material, but in trying to exhaustively cover each presentation, the contents and details of the actual presentations often obscure the lessons. There are “tips” called out in bold I have several issues with “Strategic Storytelling” by Dave McKinsey, paperback edition 2014. It’s an attempt to use three related PowerPoint presentations to the United States Postal Service as examples of presentation structure and design. First, there isn’t enough content to make an entire book. There is some good material, but in trying to exhaustively cover each presentation, the contents and details of the actual presentations often obscure the lessons. There are “tips” called out in bold type throughout each chapter, but most of them are so obvious that they dilute the impact of those ideas that are worthwhile. They also don’t seem to follow any sort of underlying organization, or method for comprehension. If you missed any throughout the chapters, you can find them collected at the end of the book; all 87 of them in one long list. Second, the book layout doesn't match the slide on each page with the text on that page, so there is constant confusion as to which slide is being discussed. Also, the slide references contain both the book Figure number and the presentation slide number (which are duplicated across all three decks); it’s too many numbers and too much flipping back and forth. Third, this book needed at least one more round of proof-reading. I found three really glaring errors: Page 34 has a Figure placeholder “x” instead of the actual reference to Figure 3-3; Page 71 says “…cumulative loss through 202o” with a small letter “o” instead of a zero as the final digit; and Page 242 says “Finally, one particularly important but often forgotten practice by all levels of people is to verbally acknowledging others within the organization…” Shouldn't the word “acknowledging” be merely “acknowledge”? Overall, it’s a disappointment.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Vishal Kumar

    A good book, completed on the paperwhite Kindle - which I realized wasn't the best medium for viewing the colored 'slides'. I pulled up my 10" tablet to view the slides while viewing the text on the Kindle. Content wise, I enjoyed the flow of the book with a logical deconstruction of the actual case and presentations made by McKinsey, BCG and Accenture and the best practices and mistakes made by them. Would recommend going through a book like this in preparing your presentations. Rated 4/5 becau A good book, completed on the paperwhite Kindle - which I realized wasn't the best medium for viewing the colored 'slides'. I pulled up my 10" tablet to view the slides while viewing the text on the Kindle. Content wise, I enjoyed the flow of the book with a logical deconstruction of the actual case and presentations made by McKinsey, BCG and Accenture and the best practices and mistakes made by them. Would recommend going through a book like this in preparing your presentations. Rated 4/5 because it does have good content and good tips, but the I had issues with the formatting and fact that the paragraphs and the images weren't well placed together.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    Quite a simple read about how to craft a presentation and this book provides solid tips for "strategic storytelling which is mostly about what you do before you actually speak to a group". Overall, it actually made me question the fact presentations are used too often, and we have lost the real purpose in a presentation and when just to talk. The final quote I took from the book therefore is, "Being a more persuasive speaker is the fastest way to transform your ideas into positive outcomes. And, Quite a simple read about how to craft a presentation and this book provides solid tips for "strategic storytelling which is mostly about what you do before you actually speak to a group". Overall, it actually made me question the fact presentations are used too often, and we have lost the real purpose in a presentation and when just to talk. The final quote I took from the book therefore is, "Being a more persuasive speaker is the fastest way to transform your ideas into positive outcomes. And, positive outcomes lead to the trappings of career success"

  22. 4 out of 5

    Alejandro Miguel

    Concise but comprehensive! Focused on a particular business problem (mail services demand), departs from conjecture-only books. Makes practical recommendations on the type of content and its format. The final list of tips is really useful and makes it easy to go back to relevant places in the book. It is a recurrent source rather than a "read once and forget one". Great practical guide to create impactful strategy presentations. I rated 4 instead of 5 stars because I feel the last chapter on verb Concise but comprehensive! Focused on a particular business problem (mail services demand), departs from conjecture-only books. Makes practical recommendations on the type of content and its format. The final list of tips is really useful and makes it easy to go back to relevant places in the book. It is a recurrent source rather than a "read once and forget one". Great practical guide to create impactful strategy presentations. I rated 4 instead of 5 stars because I feel the last chapter on verbal and non-verbal leaves me wanting a bit more...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Elvira Glanville

    Good presntation structure overview While the contents of the book are interesting, I found myself skimming through most of it. As a guiding document, I beieve there would be added value to the reader, if the writer were to provide the reader with a link to a guiding presentation and some tools to apply. While I like the step by step summary, it is too long and somewhat cumbersome to follow. If the inent is to provide the reader with a usable tool, then the book falls short. Its difficult to pull Good presntation structure overview While the contents of the book are interesting, I found myself skimming through most of it. As a guiding document, I beieve there would be added value to the reader, if the writer were to provide the reader with a link to a guiding presentation and some tools to apply. While I like the step by step summary, it is too long and somewhat cumbersome to follow. If the inent is to provide the reader with a usable tool, then the book falls short. Its difficult to pull out the real gems of wisdom and the lack of highlihghts is a good indicator.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    If you are looking for a primer on how to weave effective anecdotes into a presentation this is NOT the book. HBR's 10 Must Reads on Communication is what you need. If you are looking for help on how to organize and implement a persuasive presentation for change management and impact, this is the book. This book is especially useful if you work in a bottom line oriented, strategic but risk averse company. If you are looking for a primer on how to weave effective anecdotes into a presentation this is NOT the book. HBR's 10 Must Reads on Communication is what you need. If you are looking for help on how to organize and implement a persuasive presentation for change management and impact, this is the book. This book is especially useful if you work in a bottom line oriented, strategic but risk averse company.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jarkko Turunen

    Hetting your idea through in your next meeting Management consultants make presentations that have an impact and go around in organisations. I have marvelled them and then tried to learn from them. This book analyses the techniques used in those presentations. It provides practical tips that helped me understand what I can do to make a bigger impact.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Erick Hernandez Wesche

    Very useful I found this book as am interesting collection of "consultant" tricks that will make my communication, no only through presentations but also through email, much more effective. This should really be a subject in any college major. Very useful I found this book as am interesting collection of "consultant" tricks that will make my communication, no only through presentations but also through email, much more effective. This should really be a subject in any college major.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rudyflyer

    Good beginners guide This book relied too much on a few sample presentations regardless of if the content in the deck was well constructed in the authors mind. Rather than presenting a slide and acknowledging it does not follow a specific tip, choose better examples.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michael Stubben

    Writer reviews three presentations that violate most of his own tips While the book outlines some ways to frame persuasive presentations, most of the book reviews three presentations that are consulted messes violating most of his "tips". I found little value in this book. Writer reviews three presentations that violate most of his own tips While the book outlines some ways to frame persuasive presentations, most of the book reviews three presentations that are consulted messes violating most of his "tips". I found little value in this book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Arun Thamizhvanan

    Informative and Practical Book. Loved the Mckinsey presentation deconstruction. But going to Accenture and BCG for deconstruction, could not appreciate repetition and connecting here and there. Would have loved it if it had a linear structure.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ivan Lopez Maurtua

    I really enjoy reading this book. Clear explanations... Cheers, Ivan

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