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									Firms & Markets (Fall 2008) Assignments (Blocks 5&6) Group Presentations

Group Presentations
Overview Each study group will give a presentation to the class from one of the topics listed below. You should view your presentation as an opportunity for you to exhibit some creativity, to hone your research and presentation skills, and to attack a real business issue. Presentations will last 15 minutes: 12 for the presentation, and 3 for questions from the class. Time limits will be enforced ruthlessly! Among the criteria for effective presentations that should be considered are:    Informativeness: How much did we learn from the presentation? Analysis: Did we gain novel insights into the topic? Were lessons from the course applied effectively? Were data used effectively to support your arguments? Style: Was the presentation clear and compelling? Were the slides effective?

Above all, keep your classmates interested! If you use PowerPoint, you should bring your presentation to class on a diskette, CD, or USB compatible flash drive. Also, bring a hard copy of the slides for Prof. White. Everyone can learn a great deal from observing and thinking critically about your classmates’ presentations. What worked? What did not? Why? Were the points well argued? How could they be argued better? You will be asked to evaluate each other’s presentations, using the form that appears below. This will encourage you to think critically about the presentations (what did you take away from the presentation?). It will also generate more feedback for the presenters and contribute to the grading process (an average of the class’s overall assessment will count for half of the presentation’s grade). Presentation Topics and Sources Choose your topic from the list below. Topics will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Note that five of the seven topics will have two groups making presentations. To request a topic, send an email to Prof. White, including a second or third choice and including your preferences to play the role of Group A or Group B (for the topics where there are A and B roles).

Each topic comes with a date, a question or series of questions, and a linked file of material. Feel free to modify some of the questions if you think that the modifications would lead to a more interesting presentation. The file of material is intended to get you started, but you are expected to do additional research as well. Potential sources of information and data include: Bobst Library NYU Virtual Business Library Proquest (newspaper and magazine articles) Lexis-Nexis (news articles, financial filings, legal decisions, etc.) Investext (analyst reports) Global Market Information Database Hoover’s Online (company profiles) ABI/Inform Market Research Monitor DOJ Antitrust FTC FCC EU Competition Specific presentation topics: (1) The GE-Honeywell merger (A and B) (Tues Nov 11) What was the strategic logic for GE to purchase Honeywell? Do you find it compelling? What was the European Commission’s logic in blocking the merger? Do you think it made the right decision? What should Jack Welch have done? Group A will focus on GE’s perspective. Group B will focus on the European Commission’s perspective. (2) DeBeers (Thurs Nov 13) How did DeBeers effectively maintain control over diamond prices in the past? What are the main current threats to cartel stability and diamond prices, considering in particular the recent developments in the industry? (3) The Superjumbo entry game (Tues Nov 18) Airbus has started to produce a superjumbo. Why did Boeing let Airbus move first? Should Boeing build one, too? (4) Pricing on Broadway (Thurs Nov 20) Describe the various ways in which Broadway theatres segment their markets. Would you encourage most Broadway theatres to offer more seat quality and pricing divisions than they currently do? How would you solve the problem of “scalpers”? (Is it a problem?) (5) Internet advertising (Thurs Dec 4) Who were the early industry players? How has the industry evolved since the early period? How does Internet advertising differ from traditional channels? What challenges lie ahead for the industry leaders?

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(6) The merger of the Sirius and XM satellite radio services (Thurs Dec 4) What is the business logic underlying this merger? Why were some consumer organizations opposed? Why were over-the-air radio broadcasters opposed? Why did approval by U.S. regulators take so long? What outcome would have best served the public interest, and why? (7) Online music (Thurs Dec 4) Online music is a growing business. What impact is it having/ will it have on the traditional business model for recorded music? Discuss the importance of illegal and legal downloading. (8) eBay (Thurs Dec 4) What are the reasons for eBay’s success? How did eBay address the challenges of online trading when traders are anonymous? Why did and fail to achieve the same measure of success in online auctions? Do specialized auction sites and direct online selling threaten e-Bay’s dominance? (9) Second and third generation wireless telecommunications (A and B) (Tues Dec 9) Who are the relevant players and what are their goals? What is the role played by network effects and standards? Contrast the European and US approaches to standardization. Group A will focus on second generation (2G), Group B on third generation (3G). (10) Greenhouse gas emissions and climate change (Tues Dec 9) Is this a problem that requires governmental intervention? Why or why not? What about uncertainties? What types of governmental actions could be warranted? What roles and opportunities are present for enterprises and markets? Presentation Tips This guide is designed to remind you of some basic skills to enhance your presentation to the class. It is not concerned about preparation of the content of your presentation, which obviously should be well researched, introduced succinctly, organized logically, with clear transitions and conclusions. You must be audible: If the class can’t hear you, you have wasted everyone’s time. When you practice, have a group member listen to you in a large room and have that person alert you if you cannot be heard easily. Make eye contact, or the semblance of it: When you rehearse your presentation, practice scanning the room, even if you are looking just over the heads of the audience, or at people’s eyebrows. Take in the whole room. The norm at Stern tends to be that presenters use PowerPoint slides as their notes. That’s OK as long as you don’t turn your back on the audience. To deal with this potential problem, some people use note cards to keep them facing front, on track, and as a back-up in case of technology failure.

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Do not read your presentation. Reading is the best way to lose your audience. Speak naturally so that you don’t sound as if you have memorized your talk. Many of us speak too fast. If you are one of them, build into your presentation pauses and reminders to speak more slowly. Some people find it helpful to include at selected points in their notes big red marks saying “BREATHE!” or “PAUSE” or “SCAN AUDIENCE” or “SLOW DOWN.” If English is not your first language and you are worried people will have difficulty understanding you, or if you speak with a strong American regionalism, speak more slowly and deliberately distinctly at the beginning of your presentation to allow the audience get used to your speech patterns. Time yourself. Cut material appropriately. Include the crucial information. Save the interesting but non-crucial material for the question and answer period if you have extra time. Remember that less is more: if you add too many details, your audience often loses track of your main points. Plant yourself: Many people have trouble standing still when they give a talk. It helps some people to think of their feet rooted in the ground, as if they could not move. It gives them strength and keeps them literally more grounded. For some people, the choice of shoes is important as well. Since you are presenting in a group format, try to present a united front when you make your presentation. For example, using “we” instead of “I” makes it sound as if you worked together. Showing that you are listening when others talk is good, too. Practice, preferably in front of other people who can give you honest and useful feedback. Finally, try to enjoy yourself. [These comments were prepared by Stephanie Nickerson, a former NYU teaching consultant who has worked extensively with Stern faculty and students.]

A few further and related points arising from presentations in past years that might be helpful though no doubt to a great extent these comments represent our own peccadilloes and so ought to be treated with more than the usual caveat lector. What is the presentation about? This might sound trivial, but we have sat through numerous presentations (and countless research seminars) where it was such hard work trying to figure out what the point that the speaker was trying to make that no one in the audience bothered. Details are important, arguments can be subtle, but at least the question that you are trying to address or the point of the presentation should be crystal clear.

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What should the audience take away? People (or maybe we are just speaking for ourselves) have limited concentration spans and abilities to retain information. If there is just one thing that you want them to take away from the presentation, what is it? Make sure you have communicated it. This need not be done as formally as a “takeaway” slide, but at the same time you as a presenter should be clear about what it is that you want your audience to come away with. (This might be a specific recommendation, or set of recommendations, or some other key points—“it depends on x and on y”). Shaping your presentation Allied to the two points above, once you are clear about what the presentation is about and what you want your audience to go away thinking, then this should help to have a clear structure for the presentation. This does not have to involve a formal “roadmap for the presentation” slide — though it could—but you should be clear about the structure of the talk. What to put on the slides Many presentations we have seen have suffered a tendency to put a lot of information on the slides. This has a number of drawbacks for presentation:  Often it results in the presenter reading the slide and keeps them from engaging with the audience;  It also leads to the audience reading the slide and not paying attention or listening to the speaker. If there are a great number of facts of which you think the audience should be aware, you might consider using handouts (though this is certainly not required for a good grade for presentations in this course). Given these drawbacks, friends and students who have worked in consulting firms and elsewhere tell us that densely-packed slides with a great deal of text, tables, and graphs are far from uncommon. At first blush, this might appear something of a puzzle. However, in many cases slides serve two very different purposes (perhaps unfortunately). First and obviously, they serve as presentation aids. But frequently slides also serve in effect as reports on the projects as a whole (the client often gets no written report but a big slide deck as the sole deliverable). As another way of addressing this issue, you might think of slides (as viewed by your audience) as “valuable real estate”. You don’t want to put too little on a slide (you’re wasting valuable space); but you also don’t want to put too much on a slide (you’ll overload your audience; they won’t absorb everything on the slide; and you’ve wasted time, effort, and space). Excessive use of technique Don’t try to impress us with the excessive use of economics tools (e.g., abstract supply and demand charts, or graphs of marginal somethings) unless they directly help you tell your story. Again, your slides are valuable real estate that shouldn’t be wasted! Pitfalls from preparation Having spent a great deal of time and effort researching your topic, there are two common pitfalls: Firms & Markets Group Presentations Page 5

 

Overestimating the audience: You may have spent hours trawling through the Internet researching the topic, but few of the audience are likely to have done the same. Try to have some empathy for them. The sunk cost fallacy in presentation: After learning a great deal of facts and interesting detail, there’s a great temptation to try to communicate all of it. Almost always, though, less is more, and trying to list every fact can get in the way of communicating the main points that you want the audience to take away. The desire to show that you have researched a topic and know a great deal about it may lead you to present a lot of facts. Try instead to show that you have thought about it by using the facts selectively and appropriately! In any case, your knowledge or (lack of it) is likely to be made clear in the way you deal with questions and discussion.

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Group presentation evaluation and feedback

Group: _____________ Topic: _________________________________________ Format Time management Clarity Logical structure Analysis Appropriate background information Appropriate and selective use of data Appropriate use of course concepts Effective synthesis of concepts and data Recommendations / conclusion Soundness of recommendations and conclusions Findings supported with hard evidence Question handling Overall assessment of presentation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

1 1 1 1

2 2 2 2

3 3 3 3

4 4 4 4

5 5 5 5

6 6 6 6

7 7 7 7

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Note: “1” means “extremely bad,” 4 “average,” and 7 “extremely good.”

Describe briefly what you see as the presentation’s “bottom line”

Other comments:

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