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Win, Win, Win More Work!

By Nanette Newbry, Studio 2055

SMPS San Diego wishes to thank event sponsors Randall Lamb and Psomas, and our yearly sponsors The San Diego Daily Transcript, Mike Torrey Photography, and Scantech Graphics.

laverne-presentation-jan2015-1On January 14, members, sponsors and future SMPS members met to learn how their firms could win more work in the last step of the proposal journey—the final interview. Laverne Caceres of The Professional Voice packed the room and revealed practical strategies with “Improve Your Short-list Interview Skills,” based upon her experience studying TED (technology, entertainment, design) speakers.

With over 10 billion users, TED presenters bring their brilliant ideas and passionate enthusiasm while showing us the “how” on delivering a message.

TED speakers practice for six months and memorize their eight-minute speech. They want to connect with the audience. How do they do this?

  1. They tell a story.
  2. They rehearse relentlessly.
  3. They make it personal.

Ten Steps to Better Presentations

Having set the tone for her presentation, Laverne broke down her full-day workshop into ten steps that when applied will greatly improve a firm’s chances of nailing the project.

laverne-presentation-jan2015-2Step 1: Pop the Top
Your first move sets the tone for the entire presentation. Saying “We’re happy to be here” just won’t cut it. Deliver genuine enthusiasm and compelling messaging right off the bat.

Step 2: Project Passion
Give specifics about your knowledge of the project, your firm’s approach, and the final outcome you envision.

Step 3: Build a Bridge
The responsibility of the speaker/team is to develop connections with the audience and to make transitions that give your audience a break.

  • Review and preview
  • Engage the audience
  • Connect speakers/participants with ideas

Step 4: Make the Information Stick
The retention level of an audience is around 25%. Tell stories and give examples that will stick in their minds. Be relevant, concise, personal and humorous, and always leave them with a happy ending. At some point, turn off your slides and talk directly to the audience. This technique helps you best connect with your audience.

Step 5: Practice Early and Often
Get past the idea that your team doesn’t need a coach. Often, the leadership team is very uncomfortable with making a presentation. A coach will help dispel “I can’t present” myths along with suggesting valuable tools for the team.

Step 6: Personal Start and Finish
Strategize about the performance’s opening and how the team wants to wrap up the presentation. Combining personal anecdotes with project strategies and goals make for a winning combination.

Step 7: Build on the Benefits
Part of the story telling is to “build the burger.” Give the audience a set of components that build on each other and illustrate how they work together.

Step 8: Use Your Instruments
Your voice is 41% of your presentation, while your visual presentation makes up 51%. This gives the team an opportunity to vary the rhythms of their voices. The voice and animated gestures need to match the presentation’s content.

Step 9: Point Out People
Name drop. Use individual names as well as other stakeholders who may not be present at the presentation. Placing table tents in front of participants gives everyone a chance to make it more personal.

Step 10: Power Through Posture
Whenever possible, physical gestures keep the audience attentive. Laverne illustrated the “bread basket” use of the hands and encouraged presenters to point north, south, east and west. This helps the body relax and be natural. Using gestures is an easy way to fill the space and have authority in the room.

Final Bonus:
Prepare for the gotcha. Practice with the team the easy, tough,  and “what if” scenarios and questions. You want to have the last word.

To wrap-up the luncheon, Beth Bateman led the Q&A.

Question: How many people should go to the interview?

Answer: Find out how many people are on the panel and how much time you have to present. You don’t want to have more people than the interview team.

Question: How do you tell a presenter politely to “shut-up” who might be going in the wrong the direction?

Answer: This individual is known as a “bleeder.” It’s a leadership problem. The PM needs to stand up and go to the “bleeder” and say something like, “Joe is so excited about the project and we want to have time to answer all your questions.”

Laverne A. Caceres, M.A., is a nationally recognized presentation coach with 25 years’ experience.  As Director of The Professional Voice, she works with firms and individuals across the country, helping them win projects, attract new clients and secure contracts. Learn more about Laverne’s firm on and ask about receiving TPV’s monthly presentation tips and strategies.

View all of the event photos on our Facebook album.

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