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Monthly Archives: Dec 2017

What’s in a live presentation?

Row of businesspeople with question marks signs in front of their facesWe work with a lot of clients who make the final cut. They make it to that last stage, where a live presentation is required before new business makes its decision to award a contract. Generally, our clients want to structure such presentations around their qualifications. They focus on their experience, expertise, and knowledge base. They want to make a fact-based impression on their hard-headed audience.

Wrong.

Don’t bother with that. If the panel was not already impressed with your experience, expertise, and knowledge base, you wouldn’t be there.

No one invites you to make a live presentation to walk them through things they’ve already learned from your proposal. They invite you to see whether you’d be good to work with.

Is the chemistry there? Are you on the same wavelength? Will there be mutual understanding? Can you trust each other? Would you want to work with that team for the next several years?

Face-to-face is where you leave the hard facts behind and talk about yourself—your history, your philosophy, and your values. What star do you steer by? What stories bear this out? How good are you on your feet, responding to questions? What are you like, really?

Don’t squander your time making a data-based case that’s already been made. Move on to what counts now.  Tell them what they need to hear, not what you want to tell them.

Yes, hard data got you into the room. Hard data point the way to the truth. But hard data alone won’t sell them on you, for we often make our actual decisions on emotional factors, not logical ones. People follow their hearts and then cite the evidence that leads them where they want to go. Use the precious time you have in front of an audience to show yourself in your true light. That’s why you’re really up there—to show them that you’re the team they most want to work with.

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A toast!

side view of champagne glass in male hand isolated on white backgroundWhat if you have to give a toast at a company gathering this month? How do you do it right?

One of our partners remembers a toast delivered by her CEO back in the day. He talked about all the success his agency had had during the past year, but finished every sentence with, “ . . . but that isn’t good enough.”

He thought he was encouraging people to hit a higher bar in the coming year. But when people’s best (and largely successful) efforts are dismissed, they do not feel warm or encouraged. His toast had the opposite effect. There’s nothing like making everyone feel inadequate.

Don’t do that.

Instead, remember that sentiment is the thing. Don’t try humor; humor is overrated. Instead, do kindness. In the beginning, the middle, and the end.

No notes.

But what if I don’t know what to say? 

Of course you know what to say.  You know these people professionally better than anyone else.  Just look at them and tell them how you feel about their work.

What about making a point?

No one is looking for a point.  They’re looking to be touched.  Get your audience to like themselves (and you) more than they did before you started speaking.

To do this right, pretend you are talking to someone in a bar.  What would you say to that person about your people at work?  Figure that out (mostly leave out anything negative) and there’s your toast.

Follow this technique:

  1. Stand up.
  2. Hold your glass chest high. Keep it there during the entire toast. Arm fatigue serves as a great, natural toast timer.
  3. Remain still, in one place, until you’ve finished talking. Then raise your glass and drink.
  4. Prepare to hear that you did a great job. Because you did.
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