Marijane Funess May 29, 2015 | 10:00:50

Five Ways To Ace A PR Presentation

Your PR agency team has made the finals and is invited to present your brilliant campaign recommendations. You’ve succeeded “on paper” and now must bring your strongest talent to seal the deal. Here are some pointers to help ace the process.

Know your audience. Learn as much as you can about them ahead of time. Who are the decision-makers? Who might have a pre-set agenda? Audiences divide into two categories: voluntary (those attending by choice and open to hearing everything), and involuntary (those who must attend for their job). The latter are also important; work hard to win them over.

Dress for the party. A face-to-face selling occasion, of course, is radically different from a phone conversation or a proposal delivered in writing. Stack the deck with “performers,” real rock-star presenters who can attract and keep attention, in addition to data-heads who know the company and industry. But beware of overkill; a varied group of presenters who will actually work on the business beats a sales presentation team who are all flash and little substance.

Case the space. Find out what physical space you’re presenting in. We’ll never forget a presentation to a beauty products manufacturer with our team of five, their team of a dozen, and a room without enough chairs! Coming with one associate to a palatial conference room is no better. Ascertain company culture before you go. Is this a jeans-and-sneakers operation or a buttoned-up corporate environment? Much can be determined by social media sleuthing (think Instagram). Use your findings to dress and plan accordingly.

Think on your feet. We all know the sinking feeling of a presentation going south. This is why it pays to bring team members who are able to read all the signs of a temperature change in the room and can course-correct in a heartbeat. Pay attention to the feedback that audience members give. If a presenter notices that several people look confused, or are on their devices, which unfortunately is becoming prevalent –  then it may be time to stop and ask the audience questions, which is always good. Everyone gets a chance to pause and re-focus.

It isn’t over when its over. Every team member should connect with someone in the room. In the brief time before and after a presentation you may learn key details, like whether someone has kids or has just returned from a great trip — useful nuggets  in post-meeting communications. Follow-up is key in eliciting important feedback and determining where the decision-making process stands. If there are fence-sitters, they can sometimes be swayed through after-the-fact communications.

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