Five Secrets to Being Good at New Business Presentations

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Any PR pro will tell you that they want to be involved with the biggest and best clients. But in order to do that your agency needs to trust you with an important new business RFP (request for proposal). Not only do you need to have the skills and have proven over time that you are an exceptional worker, but you need to be able to speak in front of an audience and be a positive representative of your agency.

At the end of the day, no matter how experienced you may be at giving presentations and speaking to prospective new clients, it’s always important to take a step back and remember some important points.

1. Practice, practice, practice – If you think you can just walk into a presentation or a pitch and get all of your key messages across without practicing … well, lets just say that I hope I’m not part of your team trying to win the business!

2. Speak Up – Not sure you understand everything as much as you should? Think you have an idea that’s worth bringing up? Don’t hold back. There are no right or wrong questions when preparing for a pitch.

3. Don’t assume everyone in the room knows what you’re talking about – Treat the presentation the same way you tell your client to approach an upcoming TV segment. Just because you think the prospective client should know everything about PR and social media doesn’t mean that they actually do. Ask the people in the room if they understand what you’re talking about, make sure you repeat yourself if you think the message is getting lost, and try to use simple explanations in your discussion.

4. Be confident – You are in the room and part of this important business pitch for a reason. Don’t doubt yourself and be professional. Just make sure you don’t come off as if you know everything and you’ll be fine.

5. Work the room – Be proactive and introduce yourself to people before and after the presentation. Start a conversation. Allow the client to get to know you. You may have the best ideas out of any agency presenting, but your agency will not be selected if the client doesn’t have a comfort level with you and your team.


8 comments on “Five Secrets to Being Good at New Business Presentations

  1. Andrew – all good points to remember.

    I’d add one more point for consideration: avoid PowerPoint presentations. By getting rid of the slide deck, you’re forced to be creative in how you present your best ideas and convey your concepts. And that is a win for both sides of the table. It’s also rather a ‘relief’ for companies who’ve seen countless slide-based-pitches. I’ve been using Prezi for more than 6 months as a new, creative way to present information visually. I get great feedback when I use it and several times, I’ve gotten direct thanks for not bringing “another PowerPoint” presentation.

    Bottom line: take your key points in this post and push yourself to think of creative, innovative ways to share your new business pitch.

    Be bold, be different, be inspiring.

    • I think PPT still has its place in presentations, but you make a valid point that agencies need to be creative in their pitch.

      Nice to see a new face comment on a blog post here 🙂

  2. This post is awesome! I especially love #4 and #5. When doubting your knowledge and/or skills, potential clients can easily pick up on this. They don’t know about PR – YOU do! That’s why they invited you to speak with them!

    #5 is also key because it’s so necessary clients feel comfortable with you. They’re putting their product/service in your hands, trusting you to convey their message in a positive light to the media and general public. Trust needs to be established from the get-go.

    Thanks for sharing these tips!

  3. What if your presentations are not done in person? My work is 100% telecommute and I don’t always have the option to use a video camera so interactions with customers are entirely voice-driven. Any advice for making your presentation stand out when you cannot look someone in the eye while giving it?

  4. You can still have an engaging presentation without being able to look someone in the eye.

    You have to make it as conversational as you can without losing professionalism.

    As you said, you don’t have the visual element, but that doesn’t mean you should look at it as a negative; instead, look at it almost as a positive.

    A way to improve your oral presentation skills.

  5. It can be tough when you aren’t able to present face-to-face. If that is the case, I would suggest using multimedia whenever possible. Send your proposal ahead of time and schedule time to discuss details and answer questions via Skype.

    As for the blog post, I think #3 is very important. I am finding that a lot of clients know about social media or online marketing — but only barely. They know they need it (or want it) but are not really sure how to integrate it with other aspects of their content marketing. Sometimes it is better to start from square one and explain everything just to ensure everyone in the room is basing their decisions on the same knowledge!

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