July 31, 2013
So you’ve received some good news—your proposal was chosen for shortlist. Fantastic news! You gather some key players to sit down and discuss the upcoming presentation. You begin discussing the presentation slides: who will create them, what project examples will be used, and images are typical topics. After hours of slide creation, you squeeze in a last minute rehearsal, most of which is spent further critiquing the slides, because after all, you’re going to leave them behind so they need to look good.
At the end of the process, you delivered a good-looking presentation, and likely left a good impression. But was that your main goal? Is this the best way to prepare for an interview? What is the overarching goal of the interview process?
The purpose of any shortlist presentation is to deliver a specific message about why your firm is the best choice to successfully complete a specific project. The message must be clear and if presented successfully, all attendees will leave with an understanding of your message. This means that the presentation method described above, while ending with a nice presentation, falls short on its central purpose: to drive home a clear message! In essence, the process is backwards because it makes the visuals (text, graphics, and photos) the centerpiece before focusing on the message that visuals are meant to enhance. This leaves you at risk for delivering a weak message, or none at all! Slides and imagery are powerful tools when used correctly, but they are just that–tools.
Instead, consider planning strategically for the presentation first. Be willing to question what information is truly of value and what is extraneous.
- Is there value in repeating information from your proposal or will it waste time?
- As a targeted client, or one with whom you have an established relationship, how can you relay a true understanding of that client’s needs?
- How is what your firm offers different from your competitors?
- How can your understanding or your differentiator be woven throughout the presentation?
- In what ways can you simplify your presentation to reduce visual clutter?
- To maintain engagement and pace: Are handouts necessary, or will they be distracting?
These are just a few questions worth asking in the mission to developing an engaging, clear message. What others can you think of?