Delivering a brilliant business presentation can be stressful, even for teams who are very accustomed to giving them – like those of us in PR. A high-stakes presentation offers lots of moving parts designed to meet the needs of its audience. It typically requires advance preparation, teamwork, and, ideally, collaboration with the target(s). Here are some tips on creating and delivering business presentations based on PR agency experience.
Everyone at the meeting should have a reason for being there, and it’s best to introduce each team member on your side not with a lengthy resume, but by what role they would play in the engagement. Ask for the same on the other side if possible. Also, make your goals for the meeting clear, offering the prospective client a chance to comment or elaborate on what you outline.
Whether your presentation is a PR pitch or a request for research funding, take the opportunity to educate the prospect. Find out as much as you can about them and their degree of sophistication about the topic in advance. In our business, there are many misperceptions about how earned media works or how PR firms engage with clients. Although we never want to talk down to anyone, it’s risky to assume too much knowledge. Allow for some explanation of exactly why your team is qualified to carry out the proposal and to showcase the values, people and workflows that will ensure success.
It can be nerve wracking to talk through a presentation, especially without a visible reaction from your audience. Some of us fall into the trap of rushing through, the better to get it over with! But blitzing through slides can leave prospects feeling uncertain, which is the last thing anyone wants.It’s far better to slow down, engage, and even ask for feedback. Also remember to reserve ten minutes for questions at the end. Many people will not want to interrupt, but they may have thoughts or questions, and going overtime is disrespectful.
Never feel you can’t deviate from the prepared material, especially if you sense there are other relevant issues at play, or if you see head nods at a certain point. Some of the most effective presentations depart from the deck into a more organic dialogue about something that may be fresh in the minds of the audience.
Some people view presentations as a part of a transactional sales process where all that matters is getting prospects to yes. In actuality, it is the first step in getting to know a prospective client or partner. The best way to do this is to strike an approachable tone and provide quality insights versus piles of information crammed into a never-ending deck. Prospects want to know that they have a trusted partner that has thought through their needs and plans. Overwhelming them with a bunch of generic information is not the way to strike the best note.
Remember, even if you don’t win the project in question, you have taken a big step toward building a relationship that can be productive in the future.