When surveys ask top chief executives the three secrets of contract-winning presentations the answer is “preparation, preparation, preparation”.
To do this well does not mean identifying the role of colleagues as you converse across car roofs in the potential client’s car park. Nor does it mean, “We've got 20 minutes; that’ll be 60 slides”.
Preparation for a contract-winning presentation requires close attention to four specific questions. Close scrutiny and honest analysis will lead to answers that enable you to develop the right message and present it in the right way.
You’ll know you've hit the mark when your client’s feedback is: “spot on”; “you've answered all our questions”; “that was the best presentation” – and a sigh of gratitude when you announce an alternative to Death by PowerPoint.
So what are the four essential questions that will make sure you create messages that are immediately identifiable as more relevant, more interesting and more memorable than those of your competition?
1. What do you want your audience to think and feel – and therefore to do – as a result of listening to you?
You must get beyond the obvious answers of “like us best” and “choose us to win, of course”.
Instead, seek to find answers that are specific to both the needs of the client and your aims from the bidding process. You need to think beyond the presentation to the actions the client takes after you have left the room. This is the start of seeing things from your audience’s point of view.
2. Who is my audience?
Now that you have identified your goal, you have the right context for analysing your audience. Rather than seeing them as one fixed group, consider the individuals.
Who are the real decision makers? What do you understand as the individual needs of those listening to your messages? What will excite and engage them?
3. What is my audience’s level of knowledge about us?
Answers here demand an honest appraisal of the potential client’s experiences of you or of how you are regarded in your market place, and how well relationship building has gone during the bidding process so far.
4. Who is our competition?
Too many teams preparing to present towards the end of a long bidding process have not considered how much their audience knows about their competition. The answer is, “a great deal”.
This is arguably the most important question of all. You will win if you are judged as being better than the competition. An honest and informed analysis of competitors will lead to messages that differentiate you positively in the eyes of the client without, of course, any negative comments about the competition.
Working through this rigorous questioning process is the successful way to create the winning presentation.
Sharing client knowledge and bid content is the best way to start a process which moves on to developing individual roles and selecting presentation content that is “spot on” for your client and secures the new business.
Ronia Hinds is Director at Spoken Business Communications Ltd and a specialist in presentation skills. Ronia has an expert understanding of the techniques that enable people to communicate successfully and the factors influencing how audiences respond to different types of communication.
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