Analyzing Business Challenges: Four Tips for Effectively Communicating to Stakeholders

To grasp the challenges companies are facing, it helps to be in the “driver’s seat” and go through the motions of key business leaders. For MSEM students studying Business Strategy, they’re doing just that and learning tips along the way.

From meat substitutes to augmented reality and everything in between, those were some of the companies MS in Engineering Management students studied at length and presented their analysis to a panel of judges on the companies’ financial solvency and competitive advantage. These presentations were part of their Business Strategy class.

The presentations put students in the driver’s seat of companies facing real, industry challenges. Whether it was lost income, ongoing lawsuits, or outstanding debts, students in the On-Campus MSEM program had to present those challenges and successes which their selected companies are facing in a nuanced fashion and secure buy-in from judges on their plan of action to create growth.

The presentations, originally to be delivered in person, were delivered over Zoom weeks following the unprecedented shift to distance learning.

MSEM students were peppered with questions challenging their positions and bringing about critical conversations following their presentations – reflective of conversations that could be actually taking place in the companies.

Throughout their feedback, the judges shared several key pieces of advice for action on any business strategy presentation:

  1. Tell the story of the company. While facts and figures are important to highlight, take a moment to share the vision of your company, convey challenges and show your passion. Details like what a company does and what its goals are should not be overlooked. The story brings your audience in.
  2. Call it like it is. Some facts are less than ideal. Many of the companies selected by the MSEM students were facing challenges calling for crisis response. Some of these included lawsuits and significant debts. When presenting these pieces of information, be sure to not “sugarcoat” them. Instead, let your plan of action help inspire confidence in your ability to bring about change.
  3. Let your passion shine. Judges were quick to notice and point out when teams were passionate about their chosen companies. If you are passionate about the goals and mission of a company, don’t be afraid let that guide and inform your cadence. 
  4. Develop the right mix of presentational elements. According to judges, the most effective presentations allocated some of their time to storytelling, providing context, analyzing financials, and giving insight and strategy. In addition, the successful presentations had a holistic view of how these elements all fit into each other.

The panel of faculty members serving as judges consisted of:

  • Frank Apeseche, Professor of the Practice
  • Steve Caplow, Lecturer
  • Partha Ghosh, Professor of the Practice
  • Kevin Oye, Executive Director of Tufts Gordon Institute and Director of the MS in Innovation and Management program
  • Louise Strayhorn, Lecturer
  • Ewa Winston, Lecturer