Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics

How many times have you read on consultants and others websites how much business they have won for their clients, or what percentage of projects their clients win as a result of their involvement? Boring and far-fetched isn’t it!

We understand that you win the business not us – we only help you. The client buys your team through the relationships, trust and rapport which they build up during the interview / presentation stage of the process.

So we chose to measure ourselves not by some meaningless statistics, but rather instead to offer you the REAL, MEANINGFUL and TANGIBLE guarantee that…….

“If you don’t perceive that we have added real the value then we waive the fee”

In other words if your team doesn’t do significantly better as a result of our involvement than they would have expected to by preparing on their own then you don’t pay us. We want you to see our involvement with your team as excellent value for money so we go the extra mile to make sure that they are as well prepared and briefed as possible (time allowing)!

For more information or to discuss a specific interview or presentation that you have coming up please contact us via: http://www.thebidcoach.co.uk/ or email win@thebidcoach.com or ring our office Tel: 01963 240555

The Bid Coach are experts in training your teams to win.

P.S. Just for the record we have never had to fulfil this promise!

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Top Ten Tips – Delivering your presentation

This presentation is important, that’s why you are delivering it to this audience today.

Make sure you follow these tips to make sure that everything goes as well as you want it to.

  1. Check all equipment – in advance. Whenever you plan to use any electronic equipment make sure it works in the venue well in advance.
  2. Speak to your audience. Keep your focus on them, not the next slide or your notes. When you focus on them they are encouraged to focus on you.
  3. Never read the slides. The audience can read too, and you reading what is on a slide is very insulting to them, let alone being deadly boring for them to have to listen to.
  4. Avoid jargon. Using industry buzz words makes you sound pompous and will alienate anyone who does not understand them. Keep them off your slides and out of your words.
  5. No humour. Leave tell jokes to comedians, unless you are very good at it. This is a business presentation and in these circumstances humour is not appropriate.
  6. Use relevant visuals. Don’t put slides in just for their own sake they will distract your audience from focusing on you. Never skip back and forth within the deck of visuals, this makes you look wholly unprofessional.
  7. Keep to time. Make sure the audience knows how long you will take and then take slightly less time. If it’s a long presentation, or one with several presenters each one should say how long their section will take.
  8. Non-verbal communication. This is a critical and often over-looked area so be aware of your body language. the simplest way to do this is to be filmed during rehearsals so you can see how you stand, your tone, pitch and the volume of your voice etc.
  9. Prepare for the Q&A. Make sure you (and your team) have pre-planned answers for the questions which you anticipate getting. If it’s an open forum take 2-3 questions with you and explain that you were sent these in advance.
  10. Handouts. If there is data that you want the audience to have provide it in a separate document and distribute these after the presentation. Any slides should not on their own provide enough detail on their own for the audience as a résumé of the presentation.

Contact us on 01963 240555 or win@thebidcoach.com

First Impressions really matter!

You might think they don’t but they do, always have done and always will. We get bombarded with information all day every day – from the media, internet, colleagues, friends & family etc and our systems are geared up to filter out the majority of it, so we only retain what we need to survive.

So the question is how do you survive the filtering out process and become important enough to be retained? Well, you’d better not let them forget you before they even get to know you – hence making your first impression count!

  1. Make eye contact. Before you extend your hand in greeting make sure you have made eye contact. This lets the other person know that you acknowledge them. Without eye contact the initial non-verbal communication there is no recognition that you are going to interact.
  2. Firm hand shake and state your name. This creates an immediate level of rapport. Failure to do so makes one party feel rejected even though this was unlikely to have been the intention.
  3. Ask their name. Stating your own name as well as asking theirs is absolutely critical in any interaction, if you want to make a good first impression and build rapport.
  4. Be confident. Project confidence as this has a huge impact on people’s perception of you. People will be more influenced by the degree of confidence that you display rather than the content of your communications.
  5. Speak slowly. This prevents you from getting tongue-tied or having awkward pauses. Slow deliberate speech projects a strong sense of professionalism, charisma and is more enjoyable and easier to listen to. Use short sentences too.
  6. Smile. When you smile at people they ae very likely to smile back, which makes them feel engaged with you and feeling as though they are having fun.
  7. Have steady eye contact. When you look people in the eye when you are talking to people gives the impression that you know what you’re talking about. It also makes them pay attention to you.
  8. Avoid pausing language. Avoid using noises like “um” or “ah” or “like” or other modern slang. Doing so makes you  seem unprofessional.
  9. Use positive language. Avoid phrases such as etc, etc. as these will undermine the strength of your argument and create a negative impression of you.
  10. Posture. Sit or stand straight with your chest slightly out and shoulders back. This communicates confidence and adds to the perception that you are confident and smart.
  11. Body Language.  Avoid fast or fidgety body movement. This is distracting. Use careful and deliberate movements of your body to accentuate points you are making.
  12. Relax and enjoy. When you appear relaxed you encourage your audience to do likewise, this makes it feel like more fun, for you and them – this too adds to the positive perception of your confidence and capability. If people enjoy talking to you it increases the chances of them doing it again and to remember you.

Contact us on 01963 240555 or win@thebidcoach.com

Top Ten Tips – Preparation for a Presentation

ImageWhen preparing for a presentation there are some golden rules that you can follow to make your presentation more interesting, therefore more memorable and thus make you seem all the more professional to your audience.

Presenting business topics can be potentially difficult to make interesting, but follow the tips below and you give yourself every opportunity to get and hold your audience’s attention, so they retain your messages and enjoy your presentation all the more

  1. Begin with something thought-provoking. Offer up a surprising insight into the subject, or adopt a new position on the subject just to make the audience think.
  2. Minimise your intro. They don’t need or want to know everything about you, or your firm, or why you are the speaker – this will just bore them. Have an introduction which is one or two sentences long at most.
  3. Short and sweet. Remember how many presentations you’ve had to endure that just went on and on, well make sure you don’t fall into the same trap – make it half as long as you originally thought it should be.
  4. Facts are friendly. Avoid generalities as they suggest your thinking is also “fluffy”. Make your case a mixture of factual evidences and proofs that show your ability. Stories that highlight your experience in specific circumstances can be memorable and dramatic.
  5. Be relevant. Your audience will only pay attention to stories, ideas and facts which are immediately relevant.
  6. Use straightforward backgrounds. When you use slides or other visual aides keep them simple so they don’t distract or confuse the audience.
  7. Use large, easy to read fonts. Make it easy for the audience to read the slides, to understand the messages. Avoid bold, italics and ALL-CAPS
  8. Keep graphics simple. Overcomplicated graphics, drawings or tables turn people off. Keep them simple and highlight the specific areas you want the audience to focus on.
  9. Less is more. You want the audience to remember your message so stick to the really key messages which you want them to take in. Repeat these several times to increase their retention levels.
  10. Build your story. Presentations can be boring when they only contain facts with little or no context. Setting them within a story provides this and makes the facts more memorable.

Contact us today on 01963 240555 or win@thebidcoach.com

It’s the way you tell-em!

People will remember more about how you said something than the actual words that you spoke so it is crucial that your delivery is the best it can be. Once again there are techniques that you can use to increase the focus of the audience and thus increase how much of what you say they remember.

By this stage if you’ve done everything above you should be quietly confident that you know what you’re going to be talking about which gives you confidence and so you can relax and enjoy the experience. I accept that “enjoy” may not be the first thought in your mind, but if you can convince yourself that you might enjoy the experience then the likelihood is that you will.

The brain sees things like this as a self-fulfilling prophecy, and whatever you think will be the outcome is more than likely how it will turn out – so tell yourself you ARE going to enjoy it as you’ve worked very hard to prepare thoroughly.

Remember, you are going to tell them something that it is in their interest to hear, and that they will benefit from your presentation.

The audience wants you to succeed, for them there is nothing worse than listening to a presenter die on their feet – it’s embarrassing. They would rather you succeed; it makes their life so much easier!

The single most important thing to be is enthusiastic – how can you expect to carry an audience with you if you are not displaying energy and passion for the subject. This doesn’t mean you have to try to become something you’re not, because the audience will see you as phoney if you do. It means taking your natural style, and adding authority and presence through your tone and manner (body language).

The trick is to engage with the audience early – in the first 60 seconds preferably – get them on your side and keep them there. This is where your pithy (what’s in it for you statement / comment / challenge) comes in. It must be something that captures their imagination, is credible and offers them hope.

Another part of engaging with them is to remove barriers – get out from behind the lectern or desk. This means you can move around more, which in turn means you can have more eye contact, use body language to greatest effect and make it easier for the audience to focus on you. Your slides or props are just that – there to support you, not the other way around.

When speaking to a massed audience it is very important to use you voice carefully. You need to make sure that your voice can be heard at the back of the auditorium (sound gets muffled when a room is full of people).

Equally you need to talk more slowly than you would in everyday speech. This is to allow people time to absorb and think about what you have said.

Use pauses often. They allow people to absorb what you’ve said. Pause after saying anything especially important – this not only allows the audience time to absorb and consider what you’ve said but the pause itself tells them that what you just said is something they should pay particular attention to – and they will – if you give them the opportunity. Whilst paused make strong eye contact with as many people as possible – let them acknowledge your eye contact, then move on to more of the audience – this is very powerful!

As this is the single most important section of the preparation and the amount of time you invest here will be re-paid ten-fold. You need to rehearse the presentation from end to end at least 4-6 times, more if you can! Why, well, once you have done it this many times you will know the material so well that you will be less reliant on your notes and need to think less about what you say and more about how you say it.

Make the rehearsal as realistic as possible – deliver the presentation in front of friends or family or look at yourself in a mirror(yes it will feel embarrassing, but you can iron out what sounds good and what doesn’t and change phrases that don’t sound quite right). You will also see those idiosyncrasies that you have – hands in pocket, going “um” a lot, shuffling or pacing and you can then work on reducing them – I didn’t say getting rid of them altogether, just get them under control.

Once you’ve done the presentation in front of friend, family or a mirror doing it in front of a live audience is relatively straightforward – honestly!

In Conclusion

We can all present well if we make sure we follow a few basic principles.

  1. Be clear what it is you want the audience to do as a result of listening to you. Make sure you tell them what your purpose is early on.
  2. Provide appropriate detail, in the form of evidences and proofs, to convince them that this course of action is to their advantage.
  3. Engage with the audience. Make a personal connection with them, no matter how numerous they are.

Most important of all is to rehearse the presentation sufficiently so that you know the material so well you can concentrate on how you engage the audience, and are not just thinking about what you have to say. How many rehearsals this is depends on you, but the acknowledged industry thinking is that this will be between 5-8 times for the first time you present the material and 3-5 thereafter.

The Bid Coach are experts in training your teams to win.

Contact Hugh at: via www.thebidcoach.com or win@thebidcoach.com

or ring (01963) 240555

Less is More!

When you have a framework (or structure) for the key messages you want to communicate and having checked that the story flows logically (otherwise re-order it so it does) you can then start to flesh out each section.

Add detail for each section and think about what you need to bring this to life (evidences and proofs). These are what you use to substantiate (prove) your argument. Lists of tables or numbers are not very good ways of showing these, but strong visual representations are. Do you have these already, if not who does and can you get them?  Always check if using material from a colleague that they know how you are going to use their material and double-check that they are correct.

Having fleshed out the structure with your content read it out loud to yourself,, to check that the logic still holds and the arguments don’t contradict one another. At this stage it is common to have to re-order key points or re-word them in order that they flow better together. Having done this you should also have an idea as  to how long the presentation will take to deliver, and thus how much material you need to take out. [This is the case in 90% of the clients we work with!]

Avoid too much detail for several reasons. Firstly, it may trip you up when you are presenting. Secondly, the audience probably won’t be able to either absorb all the detail or remember it. Thirdly, it distracts from the core messages that you absolutely want them to remember. LESS IS MORE is the golden rule!

The Bid Coach are experts in training your teams to win.

Contact Hugh at: via www.thebidcoach.com or win@thebidcoach.com

or ring (01963) 240555

Build on solid foundations

Start by knowing what it is that you want the audience to do as a result of your presentation. Once you have this you can then start to frame this – I call this the structure of your presentation.

Now you can plan the “story” you want to tell, bearing in mind who your audience are and what action / changes you want them.

Always have an introduction, a main body and a conclusion.

To be effective communication needs to have some repetition – so that the audience has more than one opportunity to hear your message. (Work on the basis of tell em what you’re going to tell em, tell em, and then tell em what you’ve told em).

The Introduction

In the introduction tell them why it’s in their interest to listen and act on the presentation (these are benefits – the what’s in it for them). Be concise here and grab their attention – some significant statistic or fact to grab their attention is good. Equally something that challenges what they think they know should also get their attention!

Also in the introduction let them know how long your presentation will last for, so they can scope this in their mind. There is nothing worse than not knowing how long something is going to last for – at the very least it’s very distracting – and you telling them is also a sign of professionalism  in that you know. This in itself gives you some credibility straight away.

Don’t tell them your life and career history – quite frankly they don’t care about you – it’s the what’s in it for them that they want to know. If you want to give them some info on yourself have the person who introduces you give 30-45 seconds absolute max. on your credentials / expertise / experience – but nothing else.

Main Body

At the start of each main section of the presentation tell them what you’re going to cover – keep this to very short bullets, or visuals that represent them is even better. Then deal with each section in a factual manner – avoid giving them lots of detail (unless this is absolutely fundamental to the argument) as they will forget most of this anyway.

Summary / conclusion

When you get to the end tell them by saying something obvious like “in conclusion, or to summarize” then give them 1,2 or 3 – absolutely no more of the strongest arguments you’ve used during the body of the presentation and leave them with these. It is these that they will remember.

You can refer back to where you started, by saying that I said I was going to tell you x, y, z well that’s what I’ve done (it should be blindingly obvious).

The Bid Coach are experts in training your teams to win.

Contact Hugh at: via www.thebidcoach.com or win@thebidcoach.com

or ring (01963) 240555

Be Prepared!

Make sure your presentation is delivered as you intend, there are a few things that you should do, to make sure you have covered all eventualities.

The 48 hours before the event

  • Confirm with the client that no arrangements have changed
  •  Double-check the address of the venue, and any access restrictions
  • Confirm the dress code to all attending – better to be too formal than too informal.
  • Assign specific tasks to people and divide the presentation materials across the team. (No one person should have the one piece without which you cannot go ahead)
  • Take your own – paper, pens, pointers, easels, screen, extension leads
  • Check whether it’s OK to stick / pin anything to the walls – then make sure you use the correct means (pins, blu-tac, magnetic pads)
  • Be aware of anything happening in the area which might affect travel, such as large crowd events
  • Have contact details for all members of the team who are coming separately so you can check their progress if they are late for a rendezvous
  • Plan to rendezvous the team together at or close to the venue

On the day

  • Be familiar with, the surroundings (room layout, lighting, seating, shape of room etc.)
  • Learn how to control the atmosphere (lights, temperature etc.)
  • Lay the room out as suits the type of presentation (not always possible)
  • Always stand to the left of the screen – as seen by the audience
  • Ensure that you can be seen and heard by all in the room
  • Have your notes well prepared
  • Ensure compatibility with equipment (best way is to take your own)
  • Pour a glass of water
  • Rehearse your first few words to yourself
  • Take a deep breath, and hold it for a couple of seconds
  • Take a sip of water
  • Smile at the audience
  • Make eye contact with as many of the audience as is practical
  • Speak with passion and commitment
  • Remove all equipment and props. Have an inventory list and check that you take everything

The Ten Commandments to Presenting Professionally

Implementing the 10 commandments below will enable you to make nervous tension work for you and not against you!

It is natural (indeed instinctive and good) to feel some tension and excitement before making a presentation. This is the so called “fight or flight” response.

Control this and your mind will be sharper and more focused on the subject matter and you will perform better.

Follow the Ten Commandments of Presenting (according to The Bid Coach) and you will significantly improve your chances of delivering a concise, accurate and memorable presentation.

1. Prepare – thoroughly in advance

Ensure that you have considered every probability and mitigated against it. If it can go wrong it will – you need to be able to take any issues in your stride and carry on regardless – the prospect / audience may not even realise you had encountered a problem if you have prepared thoroughly enough. Even if they do see you have had an issue the way in which you overcame it will demonstrate very powerfully what a true professional you are – and will fill them with confidence!

2. Practice, practice, practice!

This is something that you can never do too much of (contrary to popular belief). Some people believe that you can practice too much and take the spontaneity out of your performance. Actually the complete reverse is true! When you know the material very well and are completely confident with it you can deliver it whilst at the same time “listening to” and responding to your audience, making subtle changes to what you say and how you say it (which makes the delivery all the more powerful). You can also concentrate on “the show” to the audience – this enhances the memorability of what you say exponentially (which is a lot!)

3. Have good notes.

Not the full text, just key points – written on nothing bigger than A5 size (postcard size is better). Make sure there is nothing you don’t want the audience to see on the side facing them. The material the notes are written on should look smart.  (Scruffy notes make you look unprofessional).

Number each sheet in case you drop them or they get out of order. Use large writing – so you can easily read them. Highlight key words or phrases in a bright colour.

AND use your own made up shorthand – this can include pictures or single word prompts – anything that means something to you! Put a sheet down once you have finished with it, or put it to the back of your “pack”.

4. Have a glass of water within reach

Take a sip if things feel out of control. Even if they don’t take a sip periodically anyway – this allows you to re-set yourself and to look at your audience to gauge how they are responding to you.

5. Slow deep breaths – before you stand up, or get into the sight of the audience

This helps you to get focused and slow your heart rate down (the excitement could be making it race). It also gives you time to think about the opening remarks of your presentation and to get these thoughts into your head.

6. Pause – for 3 to 5 seconds before you start to speak

This might feel like a long time to you, but it is nothing to the audience. It gives them time to settle down and get ready to start listening to you. Use the pause to gather your thoughts and to control your nerves. Think something positive about yourself.

During the pause make eye contact with as many people in the audience as possible. Make sure to caste your eyes across the entire room. Do not just scan the audience; make deliberate eye contact with them.

6. a. Pause – frequently during the presentation

Take that sip of water! The pause allows the audience to absorb what you have presented recently – there are limits to how much information an audience can comprehend so make it easy for them by using the pause to enable them to consider your most recent points

Remember, the only person who knows you might have lost your train of thought is you (the audience has no idea!)

7. Remove distractions.

Empty your pockets of lose change, keys etc. TURN OFF YOUR MOBILE PHONE

8. Keep control of yourself.

Let your arms and hands be passive, but also use them positively when you want to emphasise a point. You can rest them the podium if you are presenting from one, but do not grip this tightly, or hold it all of the time. DO NOT PUT YOUR HANDS IN YOUR POCKETS – EXCEPT FOR A SPECIFIC EFFECT!

9. Check the equipment works

Check every piece of equipment twice. Pay particular attention to audio – sound will travel better when the room is empty than when it is filled by your audience. Equally you don’t want to deafen them. In a large room check all areas of the room can hear and see you OK

10. Have a backup.

A disc, or memory stick (if using electronic material) or acetates (old fashioned) and be prepared to deliver the presentation without any props at all. This can be very daunting if the subject matter requires a lot of visuals!

In summary:

1. Use a clear and distinctive speaking voice.

2. Remember non-verbal signals communicate more than words.

3. Project confidence.

Magnificent Seven Presentation Tips

The key to engaging, and thus persuading, your audience is authenticity. This means bringing your true self to the fore. If you try to be something you are not your audience will see straight through you

There are seven key areas you can use when trying to make sure you present as your real self. Look at each briefly in turn and evaluate what effect they can have – for better or for worse!

1) Voice. Use the voice you were given, it’s the one with the most credibility. Don’t try to be someone you’re not – don’t try to put on the voice of another, or to mimic a style you think the audience expects.

2) Content. People know when you’re saying things you really don’t believe, or saying things in a way that is contrary to who you are. If you have to say something that makes you uncomfortable, find a way to re-frame it in terms you can assert with confidence and integrity.

3) Facial expression. Be genuine and be sincere. Forced smiles and other forms of feigned sincerity and enthusiasm are easily detected by the audience. They’re a form of dishonesty and throw into question everything you’re saying.

4) Attire. Dress in clothes of a style that are what you normally wear. If you normally wear a suit and tie then not wearing one to present in is going to make you feel as though you’re in a straight jacket. Equally dressing down from a suit to a polo shirt and chino’s can have the same effect on you. Dress as who you are, and what you feel comfortable in. For formal presentations It’s always better to be one point over than one point under what the audience is wearing.

5) Body language. Don’t try to gesticulate in a style that is much different to your natural style. No gesticulation and exaggerated gesticulation are extremes to be avoided. Work on using some gesticulations, but make sure you feel comfortable in doing them, and make sure they are appropriate for the audience and the subject.

6) Eye contact. When you look at others do you communicate connection and warmth or is it dodgy hit and run style? Make eye contact that is direct and prolonged enough to say, I see you and I’m paying attention to you.

7) Passion. You are more impactful when you’re passionate about your subject, but you don’t have to effuse to show passion. It can be contained in the quality of our content, the cool confidence of our delivery, or the simmering facial expressions.

The bottom line is: Be yourself. Everyone else is taken!

Call us now on 01963 240555 or email win@thebidcoach.com