Embrace the Face-to-Face

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Although the bid presentation stage can be managed through an online video platform, the fundamental feature of this stage is that it is face-to-face. While in-person interactions may have already taken place by some individuals on both sides, the opportunity to get time with decision makers and influencers can be a first for many.

Face-to-face interaction is a catalyst for speeding up confidence, building trust and establishing a bond with someone. Research has shown that in a typical 10-minute conversation we can give away up to 150 micro-behaviours, which can be positive or negative. These micro-affirmations through eye contact, open body language, building on what we hear and being interested reinforce our intent and, importantly, personal credibility.

Each attendee in the bid team may naturally feel increased pressure as the team progresses from ITT to presentation. They don’t want to let the team down. As such, three things can happen. First, each presenter can become far too focused on their own part of the agenda. Second, scripts, words and slides (rather than rehearsal) occupy the preparation time. Third, we become besotted with the presentation agenda rather than the opportunity to influence the audience.

Remember the overall message
An executive summary at the beginning of most bids emphasises the ‘why’. Often on one page, we articulate the solution’s strengths and impact in a clear and convincing way. It’s important to stay connected to those messages, irrespective of the topics on the presentation agenda. Reiterate and reinforce those messages at every opportunity. Also demonstrate cohesion with your colleagues – not just with your presentation item. Positively referencing each other’s content and capabilities naturally positions us in an attractive light to others.

Remember how we communicate
A study by Mehrabian over 50 years ago found that 55% of the impact of our communication came from body language, 38% from the tone of voice, and just 7% from the words themselves. The reality is that our words carry less impact. This is a danger with a time-limited presentation. We tend to concentrate on all the points we want to make as a person and team member, rather than the impact we want to have. When preparing people, it’s important to storyboard from the top down in terms of how you want the audience to feel rather than cramming in the detail. What are the key messages you want to leave them with? It’s also key to work with the presenters to capitalise more on positive body language and tone techniques. People can take on a different persona when presenting which can be inhibiting and uncomfortable for the audience.

Remember what the session is about
The word ‘presentation’ can overshadow the intention of the session and what the audience wants to get out of it. Often a presentation is simply used to apply an element of consistent structure when seeing a number of bidders. In the same way a bid response document will cover questions and/or criteria written by all bidders, a face-to-face session has to have a consistent feel to it for evaluators to make comparisons. The most productive sessions will be interactive, making the audience feel engaged, listened to and understood. All bidders are likely to invite questions throughout the presentation but being able to encourage and elicit engagement takes much more planning and confidence. In reality, it pays to be interested rather than interesting. Being interested gets people to open up and paves the way to an authentic, longer-term connection.

This article was written by Peter McPartland.

Peter is recognised for his strengths in bid team leadership, innovation and performance improvement. One of the first law firm employees to achieve the APMP Certified Professional qualification, Peter is also a winner of an APMP UK national award for Innovation.

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