Tips for a Compelling Client Presentation

Image courtesy of University of the Fraser Valley's photostream

Image courtesy of University of the Fraser Valley’s photostream

Congratulations – you secured the discovery meeting with a potential client! Now what?

Here are some tips to delivering a compelling client presentation with clarity and focus.

1.    Use charts and graphs + simple and meaningful phrases – Many people are visual learners. A graphic helps them make sense of ideas better than words alone. I used to pepper my presentations with bullet points, maybe supported by the occasional picture. Since I started incorporating Smart Art, they’ve been much better received. It seems there’s a relevant Smart Art graphic for everything, and they’re very easy to use. To start exploring, open a Power Point file and go to “Insert” in the top toolbar. Click on “Smart Art” and let your imagination take over.

2.    Keep text to a minimum – You don’t want your audience to be reading the slides. You want them focused on you. So keep any text short and sweet.

3.    Do your research – Researching the company goes without saying, but take it a step further. Find out who will be at the meeting and look them up on LinkedIn. Without too much “LinkedIn stalking” see if you can find a way to personalize your presentation to speak to your audience as individual people.

This also helps with building your team. If they’re going to have one of their IT folks at the table, you can plan to bring yours, too.

4.    Do a run-through with the person who created the slides – I’m usually not the one delivering the presentations I develop, and nothing gives you a better appreciation of the multiple ways different people perceive the same thing than listening to someone speak to a slide they didn’t create. If you didn’t build the presentation you’ll be delivering, do a dry run with the colleague who did, plus, of course, anyone who will be attending the meeting with you.

5.    Careful with handouts – they can be distracting – Again, you want the audience focused on you and if they’re reading something that’s what has their attention. Rather than distributing print-outs at the beginning of the meeting, consider putting together a nice package with the presentation included as a leave-behind.

6.    Have a surprise – Hopefully you have an agenda so you’re fully prepared to cover everyone’s most pressing questions. But try to go beyond that and show up with a surprise, maybe some creative suggestions for an event they have coming up or a mockup of a mobile application tailored to their business.

7.    Know your material, but don’t sound too rehearsed – I believe there is such a thing as over-preparing. Of course you need to know your stuff, but don’t rehearse to the point where you memorize your “speech” and deliver it as if you’re reading a teleprompter.

Get to the point where you feel comfortable with the content and flow. Ask colleagues to throw out mock questions during dry runs so you can work out the kinks. Once you feel ready, try to relax and go in there being you. Because in the words of Stuart Smalley, you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and dogonnit, people like you.

AboutMichelle McCafferty

Michelle joined the Proforma team in 2008. As the Manager of Business Development for Major Accounts, she helps Proforma Owners win new and grow existing programs through proposal and presentation development, as well as periodic Relationship Reviews. Before joining Proforma, Michelle attended Cleveland State University where she earned a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication.

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