When you’re running a business there are plenty of times when you need to blow your own trumpet – as loudly as possible!

  • When you’re presenting to a client.
  • When you stand up at a networking meeting to tell people about your business.
  • When you’re talking to a potential joint venture partner.
  • When you’re talking to your bank manager or a venture capitalist about funding.
  • When you’re entering for an award.

These are all marketing presentations and it’s important that you keep that in mind when you’re having that conversation or writing your pitch.  However, they each have a different focus, because the outcome you want is different.

The client wants to know ‘what’s in it for me?’, in other words what problem will you solve for me?

The people in your networking meeting need to know why they should refer you.

The joint venture partner wants to know how much effort they will need to make and what the returns will be for them.

The finance people want to know about your track record, your plans, what you’re prepared to do to ensure the plans come to fruition and how safe their money will be.

The award judges want to know what makes you stand out from others and more deserving of the award than any of the other entrants.

Sketch out your plan

I like to use mind-mapping for this kind of presentation.  It’s a great tool to gather information together in a logical format, while being creative enough to add data, anecdotes, quotes, etc.  But use a method that you feel comfortable with, whether that’s scribbling on a piece of paper or using a spreadsheet.

The first thing is to be clear about the focus. Think about the person or people who you are aiming to impress (because that’s exactly what you want to do) and identify what’s important to them.

Of course, you’ll have lots of things you want to tell them – but if you know what they want to hear, you can position your message so it targets that.

Then you’ll need all the supporting information that underpins that message.  What will help to convince them?

When you’ve got everything together, you can start to put your presentation together.  Even if you’re going to present verbally, it’s worth having it written down.  Not only will that embed the key points in your mind, but having notes to refer to just shows you’ve done your homework (which will win you brownie points).

In some situations the person you’re pitching to will expect you to provide supporting evidence.  In the case of a bank or VC they’ll expect a lot of paperwork in detail!

Don’t be a politician!

When you’re making your pitch, there are bound to be questions.  Always answer the question that has been asked, not the one you’d like them to have asked.  Politicians are famous for not answering questions they don’t want to – but you won’t win any prizes for employing that strategy.

Being honest, straightforward and focused is the key to success.  Will you present your business in the best possible light?  Yes, of course, and you should, but avoiding questions will only make you look a bit dodgy!

End on a high

Finish your presentation by reiterating how the other party will benefit from your proposal.  Often in award presentations the last question or one near the end is ‘Why should you win this award?’  Even if it’s not there, it’s a question you should answer.  The same applies to each scenario – why choose you?  What’s in it for them to do so?  Give them a great reason to say ‘yes’.