A case study competition is when a team, consisting of 4-6 members, transforms into Sherlock Holmes and finds a solution to a business-related case problem within an allocated time frame. To participate is a must and is definitely “one for the books”.
A degree is simply just a piece of paper. To succeed in your career, your degree needs to be engineered with passion, enabling you to think outside the box. Businesses want critical thinkers and problem solvers. This is what a case study competition aims to do – it encourages divergent thinking while applying certain concepts you have studied plus adding a touch of your unique voice.
Other benefits include: fantastic networking opportunities (the more you meet, the more connections on LinkedIn, the more access to other remarkable events), as well as a chance to grow yourself internally – think about all those skills you never thought you had and you are only discovering it now? Make that CV shine a little brighter!
AND IF YOU WIN??
Well, you could be the next superstar and get your picture on the front cover of a newspaper or grab some exclusive freebies!
THIS IS A NOT-TO-BE-MISSED OPPORTUNITY!!!
Here are some tips on how to win a case study competition:
1. Establishing the team – your “second” family
Every individual is unique and has their voice. There are pros and cons to having a diverse team – a pro is room for innovation and a major con is sometimes these “own voices” clash and it is difficult to consider everyone’s ideas. Avoid the conflict and ensure rules are established as soon as the team is formed. These rules should consist of reinforcing the competition rules – e.g. no cheating – as well as how everyone needs to fairly contribute, do and choose what is best for the team, the importance of communication as well as measures that would be taken if a certain member does not comply.
What measures to take if a certain member does not comply?
Again, these measures should be informed before and understood by all members.
As soon as one of the members has a problem with another, it is essential to voice this concern. The first route to take would be to talk to the person you have a problem with and bring it to their attention, maybe change will occur. However, if this fails, bring it up to the team as a whole. Do not gossip behind their back and always have an assertive approach. For example, “I see this research task has not been completed on time. Are you okay? Do you need a helping hand?” rather than be aggressive and say “You are lazy!” or be passive and just ignore the problem as a whole.
Remember, your team is your “second” family – Respect is key! Just like how you respect your biological family, you should respect your team. You never know what that member is going through, for example, at home. Always be open-minded, empathetic and have a heart when dealing with such situations. Plus, we are all different and how instructions for a task are viewed would differ from person to person – confusion could easily result, and that is okay. No matter what each person is assigned to do, always offer a helping hand to those who need it. At the end of the day, remember there is no ‘I’ in the Team.
The importance of communication – assigning roles
The ability to communicate is an essential life skill. It is detrimental to an effective team. Building rapport and a sense of trust are the starting blocks to effective communication. You can:
- Have bonding sessions – a simple introductory lesson with my name, my age, my favorite color will not work and is boring! Choose one out of these 23 exciting 5-minute ice-breaker games instead – Click HERE!
- if time is not a bother, plan a Friday night out to go have pizza, bowling and who knows, maybe lifelong friendships can be formed?
Once everyone gets a sense of the other team members and what they are about, it will be easier to assign roles and responsibilities, potential conflict will be avoided as there will be better relationships and more productivity!
Once you’ve got the right team, you are a step closer to taking that trophy home!
2. Research, research, research! But where to begin?
The first place I would suggest is a library, but it is COVID season, we are Generation Z – we genuinely have no time and it is very tedious – remember you have an allocated time frame. Let us put the library as the last resort to find information!
A quick and effective way to source information is talking to people. Bring the case study home to the dinner table, and ask your family about what they think about the topic. Every individual is unique, they have their own viewpoints and unique is what will help you win. Even though you have a team, it is a limited amount of people – Always ask around! Talk to professionals, or just an ordinary person – consider the various viewpoints given and use it as food for thought.
The most obvious source to find information is “Google”. All you need is just a click, and there you have it, link upon link of sundry points. However, even though you may feel relaxed since Google “hands you everything on a silver platter”, it is an open platform. Anyone, anywhere can add whatever kind of information they would like to – beware of false information.
Look at past case studies on the same topic you have – you can use this to springboard ideas.
How do I detect false information?
Check the website you are using. Avoid Wikipedia, blogs – and rather use academic websites, research papers published on, for example, an official university website, and online news sites where authors are hired to write articles. Thus, they would have professional knowledge of the topic and their work would be proofread multiple times before publication.
Use 100 Time-Saving Search Engines for Serious Scholars (Revised) – Click HERE!
Use these 8 resources to detect fake news, false information if you are unsure – Click HERE!
Lastly, the ancient “Library”. Despite the view of libraries being “cut and dried”, it is still a relevant source to find information. A library is a more trusted source for facts, rather than relying completely on Google and people, which leans towards subjectivity more than ever. A library is more objective and presents factual information written by scholars. Plus, if you are someone who gets easily distracted, then the library may be the perfect place for you to source information. It is very tempting to be researching on Google, and then the next minute you are checking YouTube to watch the latest PewDiePie vlog. Libraries are also very quiet – and sometimes silence is the best medicine to cure procrastination. However, beware as libraries can be time-consuming too!
3. Brainstorming solutions
The magic word here is – FOCUS.
Focus on the topic and what the question requires you to do. Keep on asking yourself: What is the problem? Does this solution apply to the problem? Is it relevant?
Brainstorming allows a free, collaborative space for innovative ideas to be generated which leads these ideas later to be formed into the ideal solution. One of the cons with brainstorming is the time constraint – especially considering you have a due date. If you are in a situation where you are pressurized for time, or your team is known for dawdling, then try “Brainwriting”.
Brainwriting is a newly-coined term that means “individual brainstorming”. Team members will write down ideas on paper or online – one of the pros is that you will be in a quiet space to think and avoid the constant interruptions, as your thoughts would be exposed to in a brainstorming session. Additionally, this ensures each team member is active and participates – whereas, in brainstorming, you usually have that one person who likes to talk a lot, engineering the conversation.
Remember, TIME IS MONEY!
BRAINSTORMING & BRAINWRITING TECHNIQUES
Here are 19 top brainstorming techniques to generate ideas for every situation – Click HERE!
Remember, for every idea that comes up, ask yourself: Is it focused on the topic? Is it feasible and viable?
Feasible means it will be practical for the business to solve the problem. Viable means it is cost-effective for the business to solve the problem.
4. Writing the presentation
The introduction and conclusion are “easy peasy lemon squeezy” if you keep these points in mind:
Win the hearts and attention of the audience by coming in with an eye-grabbing statement, rhetorical question, or even an anecdote.
Explain the case problem and give a summary of what you will be discussing in the body.
THE SECRET WEAPON: 1 2 3 method
The 123 method is as easy as ABC!
1 → Define the problem: What is the problem?
2 → Apply the problem: What is “wrong” with the problem?
For example, McDonald’s lack of vegetarian options – it is problematic as it is a global trend to live a “green” lifestyle. If McDonald’s does not adhere to this trend, they are losing the opportunity to maximize their profit. Remember, profits are everything and the business always wants a competitive advantage!
3 → Strategy: How can we fix the problem?
To structure your points into paragraphs: PEEL!
Ensure your conclusion relates to your introduction. No new information should be presented here. Reinforce your main points that you discussed in your body and conclude on a positive, maybe inspirational note – leave some food for thought!
Plagiarism is an unlawful act and can easily result in more than just being disqualified from the competition, but also lead to expulsion from your college. You do not want that!
Avoid plagiarism by using your own words, or make use of an online paraphraser such as Quillbot.
· if you are using the author’s exact definition
· it impossible to paraphrase without losing the original meaning
Remember if you are quoting, use in-text citation → learn more HERE!
Ensure you meet the plagiarism requirements → check your score https://edubirdie.com/plagiarism-checker
Do not worry about this – collect all the relevant sources you used (websites, books) and use citethisforme.com‘s free reference generator. Click: HERE!
REMEMBER, THIS IS AN ACADEMIC PIECE AND NOT A LETTER TO A FRIEND → FORMAL LANGUAGE ALWAYS!
5. Presenting the presentation
HERE’S YOUR CHANCE TO GET IN TOUCH WITH THOSE ARTISTIC SKILLS!
Visual stimuli are what keeps the audience captivated. Imagine being the judge – you have to sit for hours listening to many teams’ solutions – it is tedious, and they probably are in a daze as they go down the list of team names. Thus, your presentation needs to be on top of the world! If you are scheduled to go in the middle, you need to wake them up. If you are in the beginning or end, remember first and last impressions go a long way in judgement! One way or another, creating a powerful and colorful presentation is key.
Creating an effective Powerpoint presentation
- Structure your slides in chronological order as depicted in your written presentation.
- Have a few keywords on each slide.
What are keywords? It is not the whole speech written down! Be selective of what words you decide to use in each slide. These “keywords” should be minimal and only used to reinforce the main point.
- Use high-quality pictures and graphics to present the strategy effectively.
- Use readable charts and graphs – the less detailed, the better.
- Ensure your fonts are enlarged
- Ensure your font type is readable
- Use the same background for each slide
REMEMBER: the judges are not there to admire your presentation skills, but to listen to your solution. Your speech and powerpoint should work hand-in-hand, the powerpoint should grab the audience’s attention until the end.
For more tips and tricks: Click HERE for powerpoint guidelines and HERE for 50 effective powerpoint presentation tips.
6. Check, check, check!
When we were younger, we were always reminded by Hannah Montana that “nobody is perfect”! Nobody is perfect, we are bound to mistakes especially when working under time constraints.
Always proofread your work – proofread your written presentation and your powerpoint slides.
Use GRAMMARLY to fix any grammatical & spelling errors. Also, use Spellcheck on word → the more checks the better!
7. Practice makes perfect
We all have heard this one before – that is because it is true! You are not born to be a great pianist or a math whizz – it takes hours of practicing the same songs & math problems to achieve exceptional results.
Practice your presentation in front of the mirror – this will help you not over-rely on your cue cards. Remember, cue cards should not have sentences – I know all of us want to cheat, but it can sometimes be incredibly distracting and can cause sudden confusion when you are trying to look for that one idea and there are so many unnecessary sentences on such a small card. Include keywords, key phrases only!
Try not to by-heart your speech, remember the keywords and let the speech flow like a conversation – keep it as natural as possible. When you by-heart your speech, there is an increased risk you may fasten the pace in which you talk, as you may have the anxiety to get the speech over and done with in case you forget your words. And if you do forget your words, DO NOT stutter! Take a deep breath and “impromptu” your way out of the sticky situation. Move onto the next point – it is what it is and it cannot be fixed, plus the judge is not going to follow your written presentation with your speech, there are many other teams the judge needs to listen to!
When you practice, have a timer on to ensure you finish at the right time. Remember, keep a moderate pace in the way you talk, neither too fast that you leave the audience still not knowing what on earth your presentation was about, nor too slow that you make the audience fall asleep. Keep it nice and steady.
Remember, keep it as natural as possible – incorporate small hand gestures here and there. Do not be a statue and stay still nor suddenly sway from side to side – you can distract the judges from what they need to be focused on.
Vary your tone if you can – from high pitch to low pitch.
Furthermore, you can record yourself – ask your team to review your recording. You can also practice in front of close family and friends and consider their evaluations and use those to improve.
Pre-empt possible questions the judge can ask you or ask your team or friends/family to ask you potential questions. Always use the 123 method (Define, Apply, Strategy) when answering potential questions.
REMEMBER….PRACTICE ALWAYS MAKES PERFECT!
8. On the day
Dress up smartly and have a neat appearance. Feel comfortable in the clothes you are wearing and be positive that all will work well. Having a positive mindset is paramount when faced with anxiety and stress. Always believe you can, and you will!
Sometimes, it helps before you present to talk to your team members about something else, another topic to get your mind away from the presentation.
Try to think of other things when other teams perform, rather than on the team’s content. This sounds rude but this is a way to avoid you having any negative feelings about your work, for example comparing your work to other teams. You put in all the effort with your team for this – do not add extra points on the day even if you have time to practice. Practice well in advance. On the day you need to have a calm mind.
Keep your key cards ready with you, and perhaps keep a copy of your powerpoint slides with you so you can manage both the slides playing in the background and presenting your speech. Whenever the common nerve comes about – just breathe, close your eyes, take a minute to yourself and open them up and restart your sentence. Everybody makes mistakes – we are human – the judges understand that and it takes a lot of guts to come up in front of many and start talking.
Remember, when dealing with questions from the judges about your solution – use the magic spell: 1 2 3 method (Define, Apply, Strategy)
A case competition requires a lot of work, not only physically, but also mentally from your side. After the case competition is dealt with, go out with your team and celebrate with ice-cream and waffles.
Winning a case study competition should not be the end-all. If you win, great! and if you lose – greater! Be proud that you dared to participate in such a competition, many people fear competition and already have a negative attitude that if they enter, they will immediately lose and look like a fool. You are no fool. Nobody is a fool. Whether a winner or a loser, we are all learners – take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, as a mechanism to grow yourself, as a learning platform. There will always be another case study competition – it is never about the trophy or the medal, but about the experience. Do not be so hard on yourself or your team members. Make it a fun, memorable experience that is one for the books. Always use opportunities to shine brighter and fly higher.