Learn how McKinsey makes over $500,000 on a single presentation in the corporate world with this framework

Breaking down the Frameworks that McKinsey uses to charge more than $500,000 on a single presentation. Since it’s no longer a secret, find out how they do this.

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Learn how McKinsey makes over $500,000 on a single presentation in the corporate world with this framework
Do not index
Do not index

Most companies suck at solving problems

You’d assume otherwise, but that’s that truth, and McKinsey knows this. Every fresh analyst at McKinsey is taught this blueprint in crafting effective presentations:
  1. Always place the introduction and context on one slide
  1. Always lead with the conclusion
  1. Use a pyramid argument structure
  1. Ensure the title storyline and slides flow seamlessly
It sounds simple enough. Let's break it down, so you can apply it too:

1. Set the stage by using the SCQA framework.

  • (S)ituation:
Define the situation by asking what the current state is. It would require that you take the time to clearly describe the issue, and your target audience. The situation means knowing your audience and being as specific as possible in your descriptions.
  • (C)omplication:
What needs to change? By this question, it implies you understand what success looks like and recognise that the current situation is not it. It means defining the boundaries and constraints of what success means. It requires some parameters to be set. The SCQA framework provides context.
  • Q)uestion:
How will we solve this complication? For every question, there’s a myriad of answers; Is a partial answer enough, will 80/20 be enough, or do you need a perfect answer? – Making sense of the questions would mean listing the possible causes of the problem again, and brainstorming till you fill all the assumptions in your intended solution. All gaps in your hypothesis should be filled up. This step leads us to next point…
  • (A)nswer:
This is where the Framework gets exciting. It’s what tells the audience WHY they should read on. This is where you want to get your audience. We’ll expand on Answer, in the next step:
Example of SCQA used in an Introduction slide
Example of SCQA used in an Introduction slide

2. Lead with your Answer.

Quite early in the presentation Put your conclusion out there, and let people digest it. You’ll have time to explain “WHY this Answer” later on.
Here’s why this works:
  • It keeps the the outcome always in mind.
Studies show that by presenting the conclusion first, you help your audience connect the dots backwards as the presentation continues. This helps build authority and provides depth of context for the presentation.
  • It helps the audience feel updated throughout your analysis.
Because it helps you as a presenter ask the question; If you had to stop your presentation now, what would your audience walk away with?
  • It helps sell the solution
Leading with your answer helps build up your arguments & recommendation. You’ll be able to support your answer more comfortably with facts, data, and supporting arguments. It would not appear as though you jumped to your own conclusion. This is better explained in the next step:
Example of Leading with your answer in a slide
Example of Leading with your answer in a slide

3. Break down your answer using the Pyramid principle

The Pyramid principle (which is better explained with the diagram below) helps Back your conclusion with key arguments. The best approach is keep to 3 - 5 key arguments. Never too much to cause boredom.
The Pyramid principle means:
  • Supporting your arguments with findings & data
Instead of assumptions and presumptions.
  • Limit your presentation to one (1) Argument per slide to drive home your point.
A crowded deck format never sells a point. Overlapping thoughts create confusion rather than provide clarity. Make sure nothing overlaps, while not missing anything.
  • Reserve all "Nice to have" information for the Appendix.
Nothing important is ever missing in simplicity.
  • Prioritize the content of your answer to high ability to influence & high impact.
Discard frivolous data that may distract.
Example of how the Pyramid Principle works towards your answer
Example of how the Pyramid Principle works towards your answer

4. Let all your slide titles combine to tell the storyline.

A great slide title seeking to communicate a point will do the following:
  • Present the slides' takeaway concisely
Telling a story means being extremely definite with the “catch” and how your findings are communicated. Tell a story that links your conclusion back to the problem.
  • Clearly makes the main argument
Back up your recommendations with a central argument, supported with sources, facts and data.
  • Answers why the audience should care - "So what?"
Persuade with emotion, convince with facts. Hard-browed executives and big decision makers still respond to emotion despite their inclination to numbers.
Example slide showing Slide Title examples
Example slide showing Slide Title examples

5. Create slide content that explains & supports the title.

Bravo, you've made your point in the title, now support it:
  • Explain how your data leads to the takeaway
Visual representation of how data helps lead to the right conclusions
  • Show supporting data & findings
Humans think better in pictures than in words. Remember that a photo is worth a thousand words.
  • Give context to the argument
Don’t leave room for guessing and assumptions. Clog all gaps with context.
Example of a slide that provides context, data and solutions.
Example of a slide that provides context, data and solutions.
Fun fact: Busy executives only scan the titles.


McKinsey charges over $500k for their presentations.
They are able to do this by building clear and persuasive stories with a secret framework, known as the SCQA framework. it’s nothing more than perfect utilisation of Story, Flow, and Structured Arguments; making complex topics easy to digest.
Here’s how:
  1. Set the stage with the SQCA framework. This provides context
  1. Next, lead with your answer.
  1. Breakdown your answer using the Pyramid principle
  1. Let All slide titles combine to tell the storyline
  1. The slide content must explain and support the title.
That's how you make complex topics easy to digest, and in quick-to-process bites


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