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So You Think You Know How to Present?

Posted on January 31, 2012 and read 2,694 times

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michaelweiss So You Think You Know How to Present?Michael Weiss
Managing Director
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So you think you know how to present? Let me be the first (or maybe the 10th) to tell you that you don’t. In fact you have no idea how to present. How do I know this? Because you’re making it to finals and you’re not winning. Why? Because you are focusing on yourself and not the client. It’s that simple.

Why is that agencies feel that ME ME ME is the way to go into a pitch? If you are lucky enough to get into the room with a client, then chances are there is a reason you are there. No client is going to take the time of their stakeholders and have you schlep to their offices for just another meeting. The client has read (or at least scanned) your proposal, they have spent time on your website, and they have checked with trusted sources to see if you are worth it. Bottom line – they already know you can do the job. In fact they have created a short list of three agencies that can do the job. The pitch is not the time to prove you have what it takes – they already know that. The pitch is your chance to differentiate yourself from the competition.

If you walk in there with a 90-page PowerPoint deck chock full of past client Logos and Case Studies you are going to lose your audience in a matter of minutes. Each of the finalists has the same client list and skill sets. On paper you all look the same. At this point it is not about your past. Clients do not want to hear what you did for OTHER clients. They want to know what you are going to for THEM. What’s their future look like?

The truth: The client most likely has already made up their mind before your even open your mouth. So you’ve got 60 minutes to either confirm their decision (they already chose you) or change their mind (they chose someone else). Do you think talking about your past is going to inspire them? Not a chance. Chances are 90% of the people in the room do not want to be there – to them it is just another meeting. Well, what if it wasn’t? What if you turned it into a riveting, inspiring, engaging performance? I am not talking about interpretive dance, but not too far from it…

Take the time to think about what you can do in 45 minutes (leaving 15 minutes for Q&A and/or applause) to win them over. What can you do to make them put down their Blackberries and iPhones and pay attention? The clients want new ideas; your proposal and website highlight your creative – well, why not be creative when you are in the room with them? You have the opportunity to set the stage for a collaborative and successful partnership.

Some of you already know this. You know that you have to be different. You create compelling comps and weave in a story. It’s a step in the right direction, but you put together epic pitches that should take 2 hours and make you look desperate. You are trying too hard. Again, the client put out the RFP and you already answered every question in your proposal. At this point you should not be retelling that story. They have their answers. Instead, why not choose a couple of key points that you can get creative with and expand upon with them in the room? What I am saying is that you do not have to tell the whole story! Show them just enough so that they “get it,” they see the potential. Basically, leave them wanting more.

If you are an agency, then you are in the service business. It’s your job to deliver high quality work within time and budget. It’s your job to manage expectations. It’s your job to “wow” them and remind them why they chose you in the first place. 99% of your relationship with a client is based on whether you can work together. Do you actually like each other? This is a personal relationship, which could last for many years. Oftentimes the initial pitch meeting is the first time you are meeting each other face to face. Think of it like a first date. You don’t want to come off egotistical and only talk about yourself. You need to ask questions, be witty, smart, likeable. If you take away one thing from this rant, remember that a pitch is not a meeting; it’s a performance. It really is your time to set yourself apart from the pack. To be different, creative, fun, engaging and most importantly to focus on THEM, not on yourself.






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