Accenture’s slides are well structured and properly designed but they could be improved with better consistency.
Sometimes one consulting slide just isn’t enough. In this post I’ll be reviewing TWO slides from Accenture so that you can get some additional context for each slide, and so that you can also see how consistency in a presentation can help improve its readability.
The slides I’ll be reviewing come from a presentation called “Fintech New York: Partnerships, Platforms, and Open Innovation”, which was given at the Fintech Innovation Lab’s Annual Demo Day event in New York back in 2015. If you’re interested in viewing the full presentation yourself Accenture has made it publicly available for anyone to download.
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Slide Number 1
As far as slide structure goes, this first slide is about as typical as it gets. You have the title at the top, bullet points that support the title, and a chart on the right that provides the data to support the bullet points.
The slide fits well with the pyramid principle with the title providing the main idea, bullet points providing the supporting idea, and the chart providing the data and details. And this is all stuff that is simple to do, but helps the slide flow a little more smoothly.
Even something as simple as putting the chart on the right hand side is going to help the readability of the slide, because we tend to naturally read from top-to-bottom and left to right, and you want your audience to read the highest level ideas first before going into the details (so that they know how to understand the details and what to look for). In this case reading the bullet points helps them see what they should look for in the chart.
If you really wanted to get technical, the title probably isn’t the best choice for this slide. The reason why is because it talks about a very specific period of the chart (the growth in investment value from 2013 to 2014), but the bullet points talk about a number of different things.
The first and 3rd ones are good – first one gives some numbers about the growth in 2014, and the third one builds on it by saying that it dwarfs the increase that was seen the previous year (not sure why the 3rd bullet isn’t right after the 1st).
Then you have the 2nd and 4th that are relevant, but don’t really fit with the title. The 2nd talks about the total growth from 2010, and the 4th comes out of left field to talk about fintech deals in New York (it gives figures that aren’t even shown in the chart at all). Then on top of all this you have a line in the chart that tracks the number of deals for each year, which doesn’t seem to connect with the title either.
You want the title to be a summary of your slide so that the audience can understand your main point all at once, before they get into the details. But with the extra bullet points about the total growth over the last few years and about New York fintech deals, it makes me think the main point might be something a little more general.
If I were to write the title myself I would instead say something like, “Fintech investment in the US has grown rapidly in the US over the last five years, with a big spike in 2014”. That way I’m capturing as much of the slide as possible, and I’m not focusing too much on any one aspect of the chart.
One thing I like that they’ve done is to call attention to the important parts of the bullet points. Because as much as we want our audience to read through the bullet points first, the reality is the chart is pretty distracting. They’re likely going to skim over the text on the left, which makes the bolding all the more important.
What I would have liked to see here however is a reduction in the total number of words; it’s a bit cluttered and reading through it is kind of difficult. Not a whole lot needs to be done here though, even just cutting out a few words can go a long way. For example, they probably could have shortened “Compound Annual Growth Rate” to CAGR.
Now moving onto the chart. I think it does a good job of being clear and simple. I like seeing column charts that have the numbers on or above the actual columns, because it helps me see the details if I need to but it’s not overly distracting. They’ve also done the same thing with the line chart that represents the number of deals.
Slide Number 2
This is obviously a nice follow on to the previous slide, and overall I think it works pretty well. It’s in the same format with the title on the top, bullet points on the left, and a chart on the right. The main difference here though is the bullet points don’t seem as closely connected with the information in the chart.
The first bullet certainly is; it talks about which areas are most popular. But the other bullet points just provide additional context for some of the segments. For example the second one talks about opportunities in the B2B payment space. Then the third is about lending, and the last one is about automated advisory, which I assume fits under either the Markets or Wealth Management segments (or both).
To be clear, these are completely okay bullet points to have, and in fact I think they provide good support for the overall message of the slide, which is that payments, lending, trading technologies, and wealth management are important areas right now for fintech. But my issue is I think they could have made the connection with the chart a little more clear.
If it were me, I would have taken away the first bullet and adapted it become slide title, because I think it’s a more accurate summary of the slide’s main takeaway. Then for the next three I would have made the bolded text more closely resemble the names of the segments.
For example, for the second bullet I would have just titled it “Payments”, then included detail about how companies are reducing friction in the B2B payment space. Then if I could figure out a way I would have also made some sort of visual connection with the segment in the chart. For example, I could have changed the color of the bolded text to match the color of the segment in the chart, or I could have connected them with a line.
Now on to the chart, which is what’s called a 100% stacked column chart. Overall I think it’s pretty good. It shows very clearly that payments, lending, markets, and wealth management are all hot areas. And again it also shows the number of transactions, which is helpful context.
Another way they could have done this, and probably the way I would have done it, is by using a horizontal bar chart, which would make it easier to compare the segments against each other. In other words you’d be able to see each segment side by side and show which bar is longer. Here I can see the percentage breakdown, but visually comparing isn’t quite as intuitive.
One thing they could have done better with this chart is to put the names of the segments right next to the column. By using a legend you force the reader to look back and forth, which is not as efficient. If you are going to use a legend though, putting them in the same order as they are in the column, which they’ve done here, is definitely best practice.
Overall the slides are well structured and properly designed. Plus they do a good job of bringing attention to the important takeaways. What it lacks is some content consistency, which if improved could really go a long way in helping to support the takeaways in each slide.
Accenture, October 2015
“Fintech New York: Partnerships, Platforms and Open Innovation”
Learn more about Accenture and Partnership Fund of New York City’s Fintech Innovation Lab: https://www.fintechinnovationlab.com/regions/new-york/
You can watch a video version of this article on YouTube.