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Practical tips for making client presentations

What makes for an effective client presentation? I often reflect on this question because I give presentations to clients on a regular basis. As with anyone who does this, sometimes I feel good about them and other times not so great. Typically, I feel good about a presentation when I find a rhythm in the presentation of content, audience participation, and time allowed. The three factors that most commonly disrupt my rhythm are a silent audience, an audience member that derails the presentation by changing the topic, or when the time allowed is not adequate for the material.

But for the content of a client presentation, I’ve learned a few things over the years that are worth sharing and documenting in my professional journey. There are three main questions to answer in the presentation. How you answer them is left to your creativity and speaking.

Why are we here?

The best way to set the stage for why you are making the presentation is to state a business need by telling a story. Now that’s a broad statement, and there a many ways to tell a story. For example, you might tell a story by showing a customer experience on a web site that ends with an undesired consequence. You could also tell a story by showing a financial trend-line that isn’t meeting expectations. The point is to state the business need in a such a way as to answer the question why are we here? It’s about the business problem for the client, not about you.

Where have we come from?

Where possible, give the client a historical perspective of related events. This is especially important for a long standing active client. Show them information related to the business need and purpose. Frame the issue with factual data. Tactical tools for this piece of the presentation are time-lines and trended graphs. Remember, it’s about the business problem for the client, not about you.

Where do we want to go?

The last section of the presentation is reserved for your solution. How you proposed to solve the business problem stated earlier. Good presentations are like good movies. There’s a conflict that needs to be solved and then a resolution at the end. This is the fun part of the presentation because its the section where you get creative and show innovation. Common elements are mock-ups, best practice results, process changes, prototypes, or even suggested ideas to pilot. Yeah, even where you want to go is about client, not about you.

Following these three steps will engage the client.  Show them that you know and understand their business. Focus on the people involved in the business problem and how they benefit.  The presentation is sall  about the business need of the client. Don’t boast in yourself, boast in solving the need.