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Case Competitions: A Guide to Presentations and Q&A
Written by Jessica Sun
Date Published: 17/10/2020
In the final part of our five-part case competition series, our publications team sits down with Jessica Sun to explore the presentation component of case competitions.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m currently in my penultimate year of a Commerce and Law degree, majoring in finance. I was the Co-President of BSOC in 2019 and have also been involved in UCC and the UNSW Law Society as a Director. I have competed in both law and case competitions – for law, I represented UNSW at the QUT international Torts Moot in my second year, and for consulting, I represented UNSW in New Zealand and Norway and have placed in the finals for a number of domestic case competitions. My previous internships were at EY, as a consultant, and in commercial law as a law clerk.
What is your approach to pitching your presentation and Q&A?
When it comes to presentation and Q&A, I think confidence is really important. This is because when you present a strategy, you’re trying to sell – you’re trying to convince the judges that your strategy is the best and only way forward for the company, that your strategy is realistic but also innovative, and that everything you are presenting makes sense. This means that you win a case competition if you can sell the judges the feeling that you, and your strategy, can be trusted.
To build this trust and help you sound more convincing and confident, practice is important, but there are also a lot of other techniques you can use while you’re presenting. The technique I use most often, and my biggest tip, is to signpost, which is when you explicitly flag the key points in the upcoming part of your presentation or answer. For example, “This strategy has three key parts. The first is for your company to…Secondly, you must… and Third..”, or “There are two reasons why..”, or “To answer the first part of your question,…”. Signposting helps the judges understand what you’re about to talk about, and it helps you organise your points clearly in your head too. This is especially helpful during Q&A, where it’s important to have a structured answer that directly answers the judge’s question.
Other tips I’ve found to be helpful are to present as clearly and logically as possible. You want to make your presentation as easy as possible to understand - judges have to read your slides and listen to you at the same time (which can be pretty hard!), so I always try to make sure that everything flows nicely, that every sentence has a purpose in furthering the story/analysis I’m selling, and that I re-emphasise the most important parts throughout my presentation so that the key message I want the judges to be left with will last in their minds.
I would also recommend watching videos of past presentations (especially international case competitions). It’s really interesting and inspiring to see other peoples’ presentation styles and approaches to Q&A, and it can help give you some ideas on how to best structure your presentation as well.
What should student consultants include in the appendix?
Your appendix should act as supporting evidence for your main presentation, so I think a general rule is to include anything that could answer a potential Q&A question! This could be things like your financial modelling, industry research/trends, market sizing, competitor research, and any further justification or explanation of your strategy. I also always try and include a case study (an example of where a similar strategy has been successful for a different company/industry), because it shows that you’ve really done the research on your strategy. It’s good to be detailed in the appendix because you can put in a lot of information (as opposed to your main deck, which should be clear and not too dense).
What is your advice for students looking to get into consulting/case competitions?
Just do it! The best way to learn is to actually do a case competition and to ask for feedback afterwards so you can continue to work on the areas you want to improve. Speaking from my own experience, I can definitely say that I’ve learned something new with each competition I’ve tried, because even if you know nothing about the industry or company, you’ll always come away with new knowledge and stronger friendships with your team too! I’m always aiming to strengthen a different skill with each competition, whether it’s learning how to create a mock-up, helping with financials, or building a customer journey, so I think that just goes to show that doing a case competition can teach you a lot.
If you’re thinking of applying to student consulting programs (like UCC, BusinessOne Consulting, 180 Degrees Consulting, UMCG, etc.), case competition experience is also beneficial because it shows that you have a genuine interest in learning, and that you’ve learned something from doing a case competition. The training and client programs that these societies offer are also great to accelerate your consulting development.
What is your favourite experience in consulting to date?
My favourite consulting experience was getting to travel to New Zealand and Norway to do an international case competition! Being able to compete internationally has meant that I’ve met so many incredibly talented, smart and like-minded students from around the world, and it’s 100% a bonus that you get to travel after the competition too – I got to see the Northern lights and went husky sledding (I love dogs, so this was amazing!), which made the very, very cold -15 degree weather worth it. Apart from the competitions themselves (which have really interesting, challenging cases and fun social nights scheduled in between), my favourite part has been the friendships I’ve made with my teams – after spending months training together, 30 hours locked in a room together doing the actual case, and travelling for weeks after, I think it’s safe to say that these guys are friends I’ll have for life.