Have you had this dream? You are standing at a podium, shaking like a leaf. A huge number of people stare back at you, waiting for you to fail. Naturally, you do.
Ah, presentations. Most folks I know would prefer root canals or cleaning out their Mom’s garage. But here’s the truth. I think presentations are kind of fun, especially if you prepare as we discussed yesterday.
When you arrive at the presentation, you have to be prepared for the unexpected? Some tips:
1. Don’t let your nerves overtake your listening skills: We all get the jitters. It’s natural. But if you allow them to escalate, you may miss hearing the clue that could elevate your pitch. Remember that you are playing detective in this meeting, looking for the important breadcrumbs or clues that the prospect will share during the discussion. Capitalizing on those moments may well be the key to winning the business.
2. Mix it Up: Don’t sit with your colleague; scatter your team around the room. First, you’ll be able to rub more collective elbows. Just as importantly, you’ll avoid the adversarial feel of a face-off.
3. Show passion for their business results, not yours: They may have invited you because of your credentials, but rest assured they are focused on what you can do for them. A truly great program has more than just a strategy, it has a team that expresses enthusiasm and excitement for where their client’s marketing is headed. Note: This can be a critical issue for entrenched account teams pitching a new piece of business to an existing client.
4. Abandon ship when necessary: Not too long ago, I spent several hours for a presentation that never saw the light of day. When our team arrived at the meeting, we were told to throw out that direction and come up with a new approach on the spot. It was both scary and invigorating. How did I overcome it? I used their comments as a jumping off point for a new framework – and immediately got buy-in as a result.
5. Experience gets you to the dance, chemistry keeps you there: A truism, but important to express. What happens if you don’t sense a connection? Well you can’t force it, but do be aware of your personality strengths and those of your team. That’s the starting point. My partners and I each have gifts, so we try hard to match-make from the moment we receive an RFP or inquiry.
At the end of the day, you will win pitches you should have lost…and lose some you should have won. Try to remember that’s Fate’s way of ensuring you get more experience. And if I had to pick one thing that determines a successful outcome, it’s certainly experience.
Will you share a presentation story with us? What’s the “lesson learned” that you like to share with others?
Elizabeth Sosnow develops and oversees implementation of strategy for large clients in financial and professional services, with a particular emphasis on the legal, insurance, marketing services and consulting industries. She leads BlissPR’s Digital activities, including blogger outreach, influencer engagement, SEO benchmarking, email strategy and social network analytics. Reach her on Twitter via @elizabethsosnow.
- 6 Tips To Kick Start Your Next New Business Presentation (worob.com)
- How To Pitch (servantofchaos.com)
- Get your RFP response singing… with Jolie (enterpriseirregulars.com)