top of page

A Technical Problem Turned Into a Golden Opportunity

Trial and triumph from my life in management consulting

As a management consultant at a top 4 firm, the pressure is on when you have to present in front of firm partners. This becomes multiplied when the audience includes consulting peers and partners across a large multi-stream project team.

This was the situation I found myself in when I was asked to give a presentation on Care Redesign to the full team of consultants and partners on a massive transformation initiative that I was part of.

Looking back, it is a rare time that I can say that my naturally introverted personality, and because of it, my obsessive need to prepare prior to any public speaking engagement, was a major blessing in disguise.


Prior to the presentation, I laboured over the best way to structure the content. Then I worked evenings and weekends to match my body language, and voice modulation, including pausing to perfectly emphasize key points displayed on my slides.

As usual with slide presentations, I practiced to the point where I knew each slide without looking at it and could speak to each one by gesturing appropriately without looking back.

The morning of the presentation I put on my specially selected outfit including a freshly pressed skirt suit, pink collared shirt, silk scarf, and polished heels. I looked and felt the part.

Until I got into the room.

Sitting in the back of the room, closest to the exit to maximize my ability to get fresh air, I watched as first the consultants and then the partners started to fill up the space.

When the full team got together it was impressive. And intimidating.

Suits everywhere. Polished shoes, stylish shirts and haircuts. Precision and perfection in action. Welcome to management consulting. Amplified to its full glory when on a client site.

This did nothing to help my nerves.

What also didn’t help was that I was the third presenter on the agenda. This meant that I couldn’t just get on with the presentation, but rather had to sit with my nerves while trying not to compare myself with the two presenters who went first.

Deep breath.

My turn.

I walk up to the front, tall and strong. I know I look good, polished, and professional. My slides are up on the screen and I start strong.

Until I try to switch slides. The computer is frozen. An analyst from my team tries to help. We pause for a few moments to try and recover the material.


Well, here goes.

Another deep breath and “while we work on trying to get the material back up on the screen, let me just continue where we left off.”

Flawlessly I pick up and move through the presentation as if all the content was obvious and on full display.

I pause where I mean to pause, I clearly articulate and emphasize key points as if they are highlighted on slides behind me (which they are not), and everyone is able to get the full impact of the message without the visual aid.

When the analyst finally is able to get the slides back up and going, he is able to cue from the clarity of my speaking points as to exactly where we are in the presentation and navigate quickly to the right spot.

Two slides later and without skipping a beat, I finish the presentation to a standing ovation from the room.


After the presentation — “Hey Julianne, I just want to say what an impressive job that was. And if we don’t currently have you on our pitch team presenting to clients, we need to start immediately.”

Double wow.

As a senior consultant, no one presents on pitches. That is reserved for the heavy-hitting partners with the most experience.

“You have presence and we need to utilize you,” he says and I just smile.


Years later, he still remembers that day.

“Remember when you presented to the team and nailed it out of the park?”

I smile. Yes, I remember.

The day that preparation was my golden opportunity and turned a technical disaster into a pivotal moment in my consulting career.



bottom of page