Business presentations, as well as client and project interviews, are conducted every day and many of them have the same things in common. Routinely, a presentation team has thrown something together and thinks that they can pull it off smoothly, but they just end up repeating everything that was submitted in the paper proposal. These presentation teams might as well be talking to a brick wall because this kills their chances of being selected by the selection committee. Losing makes you wonder what selection committees really want.
If you put yourself in their shoes, you’ll understand why repeating the proposal is useless. The selection committee already read more proposals than they care to and they’ve determined that your company is qualified. The purpose of the project interview is to get to know you, not to determine if you’re qualified because that is done. Every presentation that repeats the corresponding proposal sounds like white noise that is easy to tune out. This also leads the selection committee to making a major decision with no additional information, which leads to selecting the lowest price.
Clients and project owners don’t want perfection from your presentation team. They want to understand the subject and they want to meet the real you. These audience members want to know how you will handle this project to ensure everything goes right and to see if they like interacting with you.
The problem with most business presentations is:
- Lack of Preparation – Because the presenter or presentation team have been involved with many of these client interviews in the past, they believe that they can handle future endeavors with no preparation at all, repeating what was done in the past. What was done in the past isn’t working if your success rate is not above 75%. Repeating the same habits is the definition of insanity.
The bigger problem is that preparing for each presentation sounds like too much time. On a very busy schedule with too much to do in one day, there isn’t time to give to preparing and practicing. On the contrary, if you take the time to prepare for your project interview presentations, then you’d win more often and have to do less presentations to get new work.
- Boring – Unplanned presentations are not thought of until the day of the scheduled interview. Leaving the presenters to repeat everything that’s in the physical proposal because they have nothing else to say. Elaborate on what is in the proposal by sharing past job experience in the form of stories and relate those stories to your audience’s needs. They want to know how lessons from those experiences can affect them for the better. These listeners, even if there are only 2 people, are using this time to get to know the people, the company, and how it all fits together.
Nobody is asking for a comedy or theatrical act. Although comedy can keep people’s attention, emotionally involving the audience with experiences through stories shows that your company cares about this project is equally engaging. I’ve seen this happen over and over with my clients’ own successes.
- Talking Over the Audience’s Head – Many people believe the more technical vocabulary a presenter can use, the smarter he/she appears. Seems logical, but I’m sure you once wrote a school paper and added in every big word possible using a thesaurus and still received a failing grade. The same thing happens in the business word. Big words do not connect with audiences and overusing them usually interferes with focusing on the actual message.
When talking to family and friends outside your industry, do you continuously use an extreme amount of vocabulary and jargon? Probably not. This is because you know that outside of work, your family knows vaguely what you do, but they don’t know anything about it. That’s the same mindset the selection committee has, and you must think about how to explain it so they understand.
Throwing in every acronym and bit of industry jargon into your presentation won’t help your selection committee. They may be “inside” the industry, but they don’t deal with these words on a daily basis to be able to define them and understand what is being said.
When delivering a client interview, you sound more intelligent when you take the time to slow down and explain what terms and jargon means instead of running through an insane amount of information as quickly as possible. This allows your selection committee to understand and trust you. They also feel comfortable with you and feel that working with you will be easy. Many selection committee members are scared to ask the means of some terms.
If you know what selection committees really want and your presentation team properly prepares, then you win a larger percentage of project interviews, which is great in itself. As a bonus, your preparation gets easier and faster each time you do it and you’re not spending value time and money on additional, unnecessary presentations. Imagine how few presentations you need to do when you win 80% of them like some of my clients do.
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How Speak Simple Can Help You
Win more work, increasing your billing rate, and prospects coming to you are all results of being a good presenter. Erica Olson created Speak Simple to help technical professionals to become comfortable presenting and excel at each presentation, whether a bid presentation or an educational, content marketing presentation. Learn more about Speak Simple’s flagship program is SpeakU, a self-guided presentation training program.