Was at a table tonight with 5 ex-management consultants from the Big 4. When discussing some slides we had seen from recent MBAs, one person smartly commented on his PowerPoint sniff test: Every page should be judged to see if it passes. . .

  • BS test
  • SO WHAT test
  • NEXT STEPS test

This all makes sense. It’s a high-bar that each page must be accurate, relevant, actionable.


First, we are checking to make sure the content is accurate and not misleading (BS). Are the graphs accurate? Meaningful sample size? Well researched? Thoughtfully structured, organized and easy for an executive to make a decision?

If not, failing the sniff test.

Then, we check for some insight, recommendation or point of view (So What?). Is this relevant to the storyline or logic of the presenation? Is this just another repetitive slide of the same point?

If not, failing the so what test.

Finally, we look for the call-to-action. Something has to come of this work.  What is it that we are asking the client to do?  Consultants in the business of change – what are we suggesting that our executive clients do? Are we making that decision or action easier?

If not, failing the next steps test.

Usually, more editing needed. Every page should meet these criteria or else, it probably requires some editing.  Although consultants routinely put together 40-50 pg presentations, this is the standard all slides should be held to. Simple but true.

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