When you are given the opportunity to make a client presentation, what is your action plan? At this point you have completed the “go-no-go” process and are looking forward to winning new business. Don’t let your competition or ego get in the way. Frame your next presentation as a journey and you will win. If you understand that humans are wired to listen to stories, is the story you're planning to tell compelling? Is the client listening? Since your story and the stories of your firm are more involved than a 30-minute presentation, your biggest challenge will be deciding where to start and where to end. You can lose the audience in a heartbeat when you assume they have more knowledge than you do or when you bury them in jargon. Being yourself might be a cliché, but the journey begins with who you and your firm really are. The middle is filled with what the client really needs you to solve.
The owner of an engineering firm I consulted with a few years ago had received a heart transplant and from that started his own business. What do you think was his story during client presentations? His message was simple and his journey was clear. He did a superb job of quickly introducing the value his firm brought to the important client issues while wrapping the journey in his ability to overcome obstacles. He made clients believe he cared about their needs and would deliver the solution they needed. The client saw the world a little differently after his presentation.
What can you learn from this? Do your presentations make the client see the world differently? Your presentation team must be passionate about what they are doing. The quality of the client solution is important and how you wrap it in your narrative is key. Although there is not a best way to deliver a client presentation, there is definitely a bad way: Don't make it appear to be a formula. You have a plan and each team member plays a part. Rehearsing eliminates the outcome that your presentation sounded like a Google response to a trivia question.
The presentation could be defined as the art of persuasion. When we need to persuade, when we need to move people away from one way of doing things towards another, stories are the way to go. What is really at the center of all business activity: Persuasion.
Clients relate to stories because they give continuity to the facts and case studies that every short-listed firm is showing them during the interviews. Stories connects us and engage our clients. They give meaning to what we communicate. It allows clients to relate to your solution on another level.
Is your presentation an exercise in brand superiority? Does your brand matter to the client? One of the intended outcomes of your presentation is to create an emotional bond with the client. Never waste precious presentation minutes slapping yourself on the back. Stories make your brand unique and act as the glue to tie all the other parts together. There is no better way to differentiate your firm from your competition.
When our presentations include great stories, as opposed to ‘just’ communicating, we create meaning and reinforce a common sense of purpose. We get the client to enter our playing field where common goals and solutions are easily recognized. If this makes sense to you, presentation coaching might be a cost-effective way to improve your performance. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information.