Here are 20 tips for conducting smooth client demos and oral presentations. (The most important tip is to be well-prepared to deliver the presentation and respond to potential questions from the customer under pressure!)
Checklist: Things to set up before the presentation
- Perform updates or upgrades on the computer well before the presentation to prevent untimely disruptions, and turn off automatic notifications from all programs.
- To mitigate hardware issues, have backup equipment available. For example, use one PC to deliver the presentation and the other to preclude an equipment failure, serve as a teleprompter or knowledge-base, and support back-channel communications.
- To mitigate delivery failure, download copies of the slides and script to your PC, print a hardcopy of the presentation and script, and designate a backup to take over in case of failure.
- Provide online presenters with a common slide background. The background should list their company name, name, title, and any other required information. Be sure the information is legible and placed on the background where the presenter can’t obscure it.
- Arrive early to set up your equipment and test the lighting, sound, or facility, as needed.
- Check lighting and sound levels in the room so the customer can clearly see and hear you.
- Test back-channel communications and verify before delivering the presentation as a team.
- Mitigate/minimize any noise in the home or office that might distract from the presentation.
- Set up a green screen or backdrop to prevent contrasts in the background if the speaker moves.
- Have a glass of water handy to prevent coughing or a scratchy throat.
- Verify all participants have timers/stopwatches available if the presentation is timed.
- Think of something to be mindful of before the presentation that is important to how well you present the material, such as a fact, proof point, or method for responding to the customer.
- Follow the customer’s instructions for the delivery of the demo, presentation, proposal, challenge questions, or clarification questions.
- Clarify when the clock will start with the customer at the beginning of a timed presentation.
- To emulate a conversational tone during the presentation, memorize your script or use a teleprompter. Try not to read your script.
- Have supplementary information ready such as approaches, past performance, or discriminators to validate your approach or answer a question.
- If challenge or clarifications questions are involved, ask the customer if:
- They want to watch you solve the question or problem before you prevent the solution.
- If you can use an MS Word document/PowerPoint slide to record thoughts from your brainstorming session before you present the answer.
- If you can use the notes you collected during the brainstorming session to present your response.
- If the customer wants you to submit the document you created to present your response.
- Remain calm and use your backup strategies no matter what occurs.
Checklist: Lessons learned and/or follow-up
- Record customer feedback either during the presentation or immediately afterwards including names and titles of the customers that were present, their process for running the presentation, the questions they asked, and any non-verbal feedback.
- Conduct a debrief immediately after the presentation for company leadership and proposal team members.
By Brenda Crist, Vice President at Lohfeld Consulting Group, MPA, CPP APMP Fellow
Lohfeld Consulting Group has proven results specializing in helping companies create winning captures and proposals.
As the premier capture and proposal services consulting firm focused exclusively on government markets, we provide expert assistance to government contractors in Go-to-Market Strategy, Capture Planning and Strategy, Proposal Management and Writing, Capture and Proposal Process and Infrastructure, and Training. In the last 3 years, we’ve supported over 550 proposals winning more than $170B for our clients—including the Top 10 government contractors. Lohfeld Consulting Group is your “go-to” capture and proposal source! Start winning by contacting us at www.lohfeldconsulting.com and join us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.