Presentation Tip: Show ‘Em You’re a Team

Show Me, Don't Tell Me

“Jim and I have worked together for 15 years.” Don’t we say stuff like that when we are trying to prove we’re a team during a shortlist presentation? What does working together for 15 years prove? Jim and I could have fought like cats and dogs the whole time.

So, talk is cheap. How can you show your potential client that you’re a team? Here’s how:

1. Listen to Each Other. Listening is the single most important thing you can do as a team. Active listening takes enormous concentration. It’s actually harder than getting up and doing your own piece, but the payoff is huge! Listening ensures the team is telling a unified story, and it helps your client know where to focus. When everyone is listening to each other, live and in the moment, it creates a presence with your team that just jumps out at the client. It also offers a platform for real handoffs…

2. Make Real Handoffs. When we present, we often say things like, “Now, I’m going to let so and so tell you about such and such.” You’re talking about your colleague in the third person, like he’s in the other room. Talk directly to each other. Behave with each other like you do in real life. Have fun. Play. That’s going to bring life to your presentation!

3. Create Tag Teams. When you have a mix of experts, such as architects, engineers, and construction folks, look for ways to address a particular subject in tag teams. Create back and forth conversations with each other. Don’t stick your sub-consultants over in the corner or on the end of your presentation. Sandwich them right in the middle of your design discussion. Now the client can see relationships and your team in action.

We’ve had feedback from clients that they won the job because they were the only ones that presented as a team! It can make all the difference.


Tales from the Field

Tales from the Field

“Have you hugged your electrical panel lately?”

Yes, Don, our electrical engineer actually started off a recent presentation with that question. Ever since he attended Graceworks training, we can’t seem to hold him back.

After our two-day Graceworks workshop, I was chomping at the bit to try some of our new skills in an interview. It didn’t take long before we were shortlisted for a project at a college campus in rural Alaska. Sweet! It was time to implement the whole Graceworks enchilada!

The team was made up of mostly Graceworks converts, so the research and agenda building session went easily. The real test would be the “ugly rehearsal.” Would the team reject the process and default back to their comfort zone?

Well, the ugly rehearsal was pretty ugly, but it was supposed to be that way. There was good, frank discussion, and the team was excited because we were moving away from death by PowerPoint. We identified key graphics, organized more rehearsals, and practiced details like handoffs. In the end, we spent less time preparing for the interview and had a better experience doing it.

On the big day, we found ourselves engaged in a presentation where we were focused on telling our personal, positive, passionate stories. The enthusiasm of our team spread throughout the room, and we left the interview feeling that it was an incredible experience. Afterwards, our project manager met one of the interview panel members in the supermarket. The panelist said, “What in the world did you guys do to Don?”

Bottom line, we won the job! The client specifically said they loved the energy and passion of the presentation, but the experience we had preparing and presenting was pretty rewarding on its own. Hats off to Graceworks and the freedom they helped us find.

Jeff Putnam, PE, PMP
Marketing Director
Design Alaska
Fairbanks, AK

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