Create a structure and signpost your content. Then your audience can easily see the main points and the logic of what you’re saying and showing. Repetition (some) and reinforcement are important. There’s an old acronym: KISS - Keep it Simple Stupid - which, while a bit out of date perhaps, still holds more or less true. Whatever you’re selling or offering in your presentation, the detail may be complex: on what’s to be done, how it will be done, who will do it, the likely challenges and, of course, the cost proposals and contractual issues. But your task is to make things simple. Later discussions and questions will allow the client to get through to the small print. So be assured and convey your key points as simply as possible. Albert Einstein put it well: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
Choose the best presentation method and audio-visuals. PowerPoint, if used (and it isn’t compulsory so there’s no obligation) must be only supportive and must never repeat what you’re saying unless it’s a crucial word or number. Think about what you’re showing and make what you show count. As your value proposition differentiates your firm’s offer from those of competitors, so must your presentation stand out from them too. Some will work just with models or simulations. Others will use music, flowcharts, handouts, flipcharts, actors, videos and all manner of other props and aids. Your choice will depend on the facilities available, the client expectations and the experience of your presenting team. But mostly, your choice must depend on what you need to say or show.
Rehearsals are wrongly often kept to a minimum and, like any public speaking engagement, practice is key as it is in the delivery of any skill. Rehearse until you can deliver the pitch accurately, comfortably and with enjoyment. Rehearse so that everyone on your team knows the content well and everything can move along smoothly. Rehearsals will also show what you must keep in and what you can do without. Managing time well is essential.
When you rehearse, prepare for questions. Anticipate all of the possible questions that the client may ask. And consider who is best in the pitching team to answer them so that the chairperson knows how to direct questions. Rehearse tricky responses so there is a common understanding. There’s nothing worse than people on the pitch team offering totally different answers to a particular question. Normally, you will be invited to ask the client panel questions. So, make sure you prepare some questions to ask - questions to which you want to know the answers and those that demonstrate your expertise and insight, questions that show you’ve done your homework and have thought above and beyond the brief, questions that add insight and make the client reflect and questions that make you and your team stand out.
It’s always worth anticipating what you’ll do if something goes wrong. What if, for some reason, your allotted time is half what you assumed? What if technical support isn’t there or if you and the client don’t have a specific cable? What if one of your team is unwell and can’t attend? And what if the client decides to take the pitch meeting in a totally different direction and far away off your script?
In the final part of this series we’ll look at emotional connection.
Is your pitching ability holding you back from selling your products or attracting funding for your business? In the course of just one day, Elaine Powell can help you to deliver a powerful pitch for any context.