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!

Poor workmen blame their tools!

Visual aides are there to support you, the presenter, not something to hide behind, so make sure that yours do just that!

PowerPoint is the most commonly used tool, and whilst it gets a lot of bad press “death by PowerPoint” this says more about the how presenters use it not the tool itself.

There are many things that you can do to make PowerPoint work for you, some of the more obvious ones are:

Don’t use bullets – they are dull. If you do use them do NOT read them out – this is an insult to the audience – they don’t need you if they can just read everything from the screen!

Keep slides plain – backgrounds that are too fussy will distract the audience. If you want to use a coloured background, chose pastel colours, something that compliments the subject – if you are talking finance don’t go with bright pink for example.

Contrast background – to the text and make sure that both are suitable for the lighting in the room where the presentation is to be delivered.

Use clear fonts – make them large enough to be read – from the back of the auditorium

Slide transitions – Keep these simple. Do not use animation to “fly in” or the like, have the text / visuals come up either all at the same time, or on your click – whichever suits best

Minimum number of slides – Too many slides and the audience will be focused on them and not you. Only use slides to add extra value to what you are saying, they support you, not the other way round.

Do not keep turning around to look at the slides – the audience does not want to see the back of your head. If you want to know what’s on the screen place a pc in front of you – whatever you see there is what the audience can see. You can half turn to point to something on the slide, but do so as infrequently as possible and always face the front when speaking

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

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

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.

Competitive Dialogue – Friend or Foe?

If you want to improve your chances of scoring well through this process it is important to improve the performance of your team and increase their standing within the eyes of the awarding contractor.

The new Competitive Dialogue (CD) procedure was introduced as part of the Public Contracts Regulations in the UK from the end of January 2006. However CD is not appropriate for all forms of procurement in the public sector. A contracting authority is only entitled to invoke the procedure where it “considers that the use of the open or restricted procedure will not allow the award of a contract”. Or, put another way when the authority is not able to objectively define one or more of the following definitively – the legal, financial or technical solutions that would best satisfy their needs or objectives – in other words the more complex projects! The net result of this for both parties is that the solutions will evolve and develop as a result of the process and may change quite radically during it.

Any authority engaging in the process must be extremely vigilant to make sure that all potential bidders are treated fairly and equally, for the sake of the process itself and to make sure no challenges are made after the final award – this would be costly for all concerned, reduce contractors faith in the authority and significantly delay the project itself.

Under the regulations a minimum of three bidders must be invited to dialogue after the PQQ stage. During the Invitation to Dialogue ask the awarding authority must include details of the criteria by which the bids will be evaluated against and the associated weightings.

It is envisaged that there will be at least two stages to the CD process. The first will focus on the outline solutions from each potential bidder and should allow the contracting authority to mark the potential bidders against the stated criteria and then rationalize the number of bidders down ahead of the second stage. A short list of bidders will then generally be invited to submit detailed priced technical solutions. Further dialogue sessions are likely to follow to explore the solutions and resolve any outstanding issues. There must be sufficient bidders involved in this stage of the process to allow for genuine competition – the minimum number for this is generally regarded as three.

Dialogue can continue until the authority has identified the solution(s) which meet its needs, including key contractual terms. Bids must always be assessed by the evaluation criteria previously disclosed to the bidders – and must be selected on the basis of the Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT).

In recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of legal challenges by aggrieved bidders. One reason for this is that due to the credit crunch there are fewer alternative opportunities around for unsuccessful bidders to move to, and also bidders are generally more aware of their rights.

Once the final tender is selected (under CD) there can be no post tender negotiation. The issue with the above for the awarding authority is that there is a danger of closing the dialogue too early, before all eventualities have been explored. On the flip side, if the dialogue stage lasts too long it will potentially have significant cost impact of the contractors involved and they may pull out of the scheme before the process is completed, thus making the whole thing either null and void, or at best seriously undermined.

From the awarding authorities perspective CD offers them the opportunity to enter into meaningful dialogue with the private sector. Through the flexibility of the process they can then draw upon significant amounts of expertise and knowledge. To be successful the CD process does demand time and resource from both sides, but provided that when both parties engage they are fully aware of the commitments required then there is every reason the process will be successful – to the maximum benefit of both sides.

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

Seven Ways to make (or break) your presentation

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 utilize when trying to ensure 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. 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. Use the voice you were given, it’s the one with the most credibility.

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. 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. Be genuine and be sincere.

4) Attire. Don’t dress in clothes of a style that aren’t what you normally wear. If you never normally wear a suit and tie then 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 significantly 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 matter.

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