If some is good, more must be better, right?
If your presentation content is built with the idea of giving as many reasons as possible why your client should choose your business, you are going to be in trouble. In fact you’re probably already in trouble even if nothing changes.
People have a limited capacity to absorb information, even from the most invigorating and stimulating presentations. Clients who are possibly on their fourth or fifth version of the same presentation but with different supplier logos are likely to have even less capacity.
A familiar scenario: a last minute change of plan from your client means that your carefully constructed 45 minute presentation now has to be done in 20. Or worse still, you get more time than you thought and you suddenly need to find another 30 minutes of something.
The way that you go about constructing your presentations will determine whether this type of change will send you reeling in a state of panic or whether it’s something you take in your stride.
The way to win business is not through more arguments and more information – it’s through more relevance and more proof. Focus on the few things that matter most and it will be much easier to vary the length of the presentation without losing or diluting your most important arguments. People are also much more likely to remember what you said.
Build in layers
Of all the things you could include in your presentation, there are probably no more than 3 or 4 critical points that really matter to your client or where your organisation stands out from the competition. Think of everything that doesn’t relate directly to these points and reinforce your credibility in those areas as a distraction.
Would you play an on-screen animation while you were delivering the most critical part of your presentation? Hopefully not! So why would you want to divert attention from your key arguments by including loads of other information in your presentation that’s of secondary importance.
Fill the layers with evidence
Think of your presentation like a layered cake: if there are 3 critical points then you have 3 layers. You make the experience more enjoyable with what you put between the layers rather than adding more layers of boring, stodgy sponge.
The main thing you want to add between the layers is evidence to back up what you are saying and possibly a deeper exploration of the relevant issues in a way that answers clients’ questions and concerns.
Before building a presentation it’s often a good discipline to ask yourself what you would include if you only had 15 minutes to put across your case. Straight away this is going to make you concentrate on the points you absolutely need to communicate. Baking the layers of your cake, if you like.
Usually you can stop right there. Instead of adding more arguments to fill the time, think about the most effective and memorable ways of putting across the ones that really matter.
And when the goalposts move…
If you suddenly find you had less time than you thought you haven’t got the task of sorting through 20 points trying to decide what you can leave out. You just have to say a bit less about each of the points you really need to make.
If you have more time, use the opportunity to reinforce your most critical and persuasive arguments. Incorporate some thought-provoking questions that might reinforce your credibility and demonstrate that you understand underlying issues and challenges. Provide more proof to back up what you are saying.
There’s even no harm in making the same point in a slightly different way to make sure everyone gets it.
By building your presentation this way you can cope with last minute changes without devaluing your presentation. And even if nothing changes you know you’ll be nailing the points that will really determine whether you win the bid.
The Bid Coach
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I have many years of senior sales and account management positions.
This experience taught me how to interpret exactly what clients are seeking, and what they need and expect to see and hear from the successful bidder. We draw on this experience to give your team an additional competitive advantage by building on their existing strengths while improving their team-working and self-awareness.