So What?

Jan Schultink is a presentation designer with a decade of experience as a CEO strategy consultant with McKinsey & Company.  In his recent post “So What” in his blog Idea Transplant, he neatly and crisply addresses a solution for the disease we find in many presentations.  We often see and hear about the “WHAT” – – Sales up.  Sales down.  Expenses flat.  # clients up or down – – the standard “elevator analysis.”  But far too often there is inadequate attention explaining the “So What.”  Jan suggested that:

….you should ask yourself what “the real point of a chart full with analysis was and write that down as the title…A so what should be meaningful, and not simply stating a fact for example instead of “We are making a loss in France”, maybe it should read: “It is time to leave the French market”… Once you established what the so what of the chart is, you could then go on an cut down any facts, data, or analysis that was not essential to make the point.  If you identified the key messages correctly you would be able to understand a document by just reading the headlines, the content of the slides just backs up what the title says.”

What Jan isn’t saying here is the easy part of the task is explaining and presenting the “What.”  The really heavy lifting comes from defining the “So What.”


  1. “So what” is a perfect example of simple is hard, complicated is easy. In our sound bite, cut-and-paste world, distilling an idea to its essence is a lost art. Hemingway once said (para) that he felt like he had accomplished something if he wrote “one true sentence” that precisely communicated the idea yet carried no extra baggage, at least once per day. “So what” takes that challenge one step further because it implies a deductive or inductive conclusion, and perhaps a call to action along with the ‘pithy’ summation. Good stuff, Kanigan.


  2. Yes,being willing to take action on the so what? what comes next? what should we do about this? is the really tough part. But once the decided upon action is underway, surprisingly smooth sailing CAN occurr!


  3. strategyaudit says:

    Good post, good blog!!
    Thanks for “Liking” mine.
    Being a “published blogauthor” (is that a new word, better than blogger, which reminds me of the bloke from down the road when I was a kid, 50 years ago) is a terrific freedom, it enables a lot of ideas, and responses to others ideas, and the stuff I just think about to get away in what is hopefully a meaningful manner. I’m very glad I am not always talking to myself.
    Allen roberts


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