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Six Presentation Tips from the Experts

October 18, 2012

Today’s post was written by Karen Wilson, Marketing Coordinator at Beals and Thomas, Inc. Karen attended SMPS Boston’s “Ask the Experts: Presentations” panel, and has written up some of the key points from the session for your reading pleasure. Karen may be contacted at

Whether you are presenting to a group of colleagues or in front of a selection board, presentations can be a challenge if you are not prepared. Based on personal experience, it can bring on the jitters better than most Halloween fright nights. But putting best practices in place before you present can ease some fears and allow you to deliver an effective and successful presentation.

The Ask the Experts: Presentations education session provided some great insight on presentation tips and practices. Led by the session speakers Lisa Quackenbush, owner of cuePR; Rob MacLeod, president of Neoscape; Maureen McDonough, Senior Director of Administration Strategies for Planning and Project Management at Harvard University; and Bill Ronco, president of Gathering Pace Consulting, here are some notable things to consider when preparing your next presentation.

  • The human connection. The expertise, charisma and likeability of team members wins more often than not. Select a project team that has the best shot of winning the job at the interview and not on who is available to do the job. For example, if your project manager is not a good communicator it could leave the client wondering if communication problems will arise later on down the road. It’s all about the first impression so make it matter.
  • Don’t repeat the obvious. You just spent countless hours preparing a lengthy proposal that outlines your qualifications. If your firm was short-listed to interview then you can safely assume the client knows you’re qualified to do the work. Don’t repeat information that you have already submitted. Instead, expand on that information. Show relevance using projects that speak to the project you’re going after. If using presentation materials, be sure to keep text to a minimum and highlight graphics appropriately.
  • Answer the question. If you’ve been watching political debates lately you will understand why this is worth noting. Answer questions succinctly, even if you think it might not put your firm in a good light – own your weaknesses. Avoidance will only cast doubt on your abilities.
  • Exit stage right. That’s where you’re headed if you don’t rehearse. Avoid pitfalls by planning and scheduling rehearsals several days before your presentation date. Storyboard the presentation to keep material structured and flowing smoothly. Make sure content is relevant. Brainstorm questions and answers and prepare for the unexpected. Coach speakers to communicate the message clearly and with confidence.
  • Show respect. Your potential client is busy too, so respect their process. Be on time and stay within the time allotted for the presentation.
  • The human connection. It bears repeating. Show your passion and let the client know that they matter to you. The more comfortable and at ease they are with you, your abilities and expertise, the better your chances for winning.

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