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June 5, 2018

Avoid these 8 Rookie Mistakes with your Next Capabilities Presentation

Whether you’re an introvert who hates public speaking – or an experienced presenter who thrives in front of an audience – there are a number of common mistakes you must avoid to give yourself the best chance of success with your next capabilities presentation.

#1. Lousy PowerPoint slides. Come on… you know you’re guilty of this. These are the slides with 6-8-10 (or more) bullet points, each one in the form of a compete sentence. As an attendee, they’re just miserable to have to sit through. And as the presenter, they’re impossible to remember… so what do you do? Turn your back on the audience and read them verbatim! UGH!

Get rid of the bullet points (and the overly complex graphics, for the matter). Put up a single engaging image, maybe 2 or 3 words… and then speak! Don’t use the slide deck as a script, use it as a guide. YOU need to be the expert… the star of the show. If all you’re going to do is read the slides… then why are you even there? And if there are some details you want to share, then put them in a leave-behind.

#2. Don’t start with ‘About Us.’ Nearly every slide deck I’ve seen in this industry starts with 4-5-6 slides that are all about their firm. Well, guess what? Nobody cares!!! They know what your capabilities are – that’s why you’re at the table. Your audience does not care about what you can do… they care about what you can do FOR THEM!

And what can you do for them? Solve their problem. So, start the presentation by acknowledging that you understand their problem(s) and then show them how you fixed it for other clients. That will “hook them” right away… rather than them nodding off while you go on and on about how awesome/wonderful/expert your firm is. YAWN!

For the About Us slides… collapse it down to one slide, move it to the very end, and blow through it quickly.

#3. Bullet points. I addressed this a little in point #1… but, to be fair, there are times when bullet points are needed. When that happens, follow the ‘4X4 Rule.’ That is, no more than 4 bullet points on a slide… and no more than 4 words per bullet.

Remember, they’re a guide, not a script.

#4. Get prepared. Don’t just show up, turn on PowerPoint and start talking. Before you ever get to the prospect’s office, do your homework:

  • Make sure you’re familiar with all of their service lines.
  • And the industries/markets they serve (maybe even some of their clients).
  • Be clear on their biggest challenge(s)… you should have uncovered this in the early exploratory calls with them.
  • And who they consider their competition.

The better you know these things, the more targeted and customized your presentation can become.

#5. Bring the tech. More than likely, a prospect will have a conference room with some sort of projection system to make delivering your presentation very easy. But what if they don’t? Or if there’s a technical glitch? So, rather than take a chance, make sure you bring with you a laptop, projector and a dongle for advancing the slides remotely.

#6. Practice. Remember the old joke… “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” “Practice. Practice. Practice.” It’s no different with a capabilities presentation. Practice in front of a mirror. Practice in front of your colleagues (and invite criticism). Your goal should be to deliver your presentation without ever looking at the screen! Also, anticipate the kind of questions you’ll get… and think through the answers.

#7. Get and give business cards. First of all, make sure you have an ample supply of business cards… you never know how many people will show up. As importantly, make sure to get a business card from every person who attends your presentation, regardless of their role or title. [The more people you meet and start a relationship with, the more likely you are to keep that account should your ‘champion’ ever decide to move on.] Then, after the presentation, send each attendee a nice ‘thank you’ email, add them to your CRM and, where appropriate, reach out and connect with them on LinkedIn.

#8. Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up. In addition to the ‘thank you’ notes to everyone in attendance (see #7), you will also need to follow-up with your primary contact to see how they think the presentation went, what the response was internally and what the next step is in the process. And then stay in touch as appropriate… make sure your key contact is on your enewsletter list, send him/her a relevant article occasionally and pick up the phone every once in a while. The simple fact is… there are plenty of options for buyers these days, and if you forget about them – I guarantee they will forget about you.

Summary: Delivering capabilities presentations is an important part of the buying-selling process in our industry. Done right… they lead to new revenue opportunities. Don’t poorly… and… well, I think you know what happens.

Good luck and good selling.




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