We constantly hear from clients that they want the people in the interview to be the ones doing the work. For a small shop, that’s a huge advantage because small shops generally have a greater percentage of senior folks as a portion of their overall staff.
But before you get to do the work, you have to win them over. Herewith (c’mon, where else but my blog can I get away with a word like that?), some rules we follow religiously that tend to break the conventional wisdom…
- We’re not all things to all people. We have certain passions, certain things we think are right and certain things we believe are just stupid, and we let that passion come through in the presentation. We spend a lot less time explaining why we’re perfect than we do explaining what we believe and how it relates to what the client believes.
- No PowerPoint, no matter how good, will make up for an awful speaker. Only those who can present well get to do much talking. Corollary: If the room can’t be set up in such a way that the speaker (not the screen) is the focus of attention, then we’ll skip the A/V.
- Slides are against light backgrounds, not dark ones. That makes the text easier to read in a well-lit (or at least half-lit) room, and we don’t want people trying to take notes in the dark. And they will take notes because we make sure they have nice pens and note paper at the outset.
- Everyone on the team coordinates what they’ll wear. Not so we all match, but so no single person sticks out.
- No one is allowed to read from of a slide or repeat verbatim something that’s on a slide. Slides are there to augment the points you’re making, but the main points must be verbal.
- We brainstorm what we believe will be the top 10 post-presentation questions and have slides ready for them. You get ooohs and ahhhs if they ask a question and you can jump right to a new, relevant slide or slides that address it.
- Lead speaker is the project manager, not the agency principal. The agency principal may open and close by talking about our resources and commitment, but the project manager spends the bulk of the time talking about how we’re going to get the work done and his/her role as an internal advocate for the client’s success.
- Given a choice, we like to set up the room ourselves, including the tables, chairs, pitchers of ice water — everything. That doesn’t happen as often as we’d like, but it does happen. And when it does, it speaks volumes about our attention to detail, as well as rattling the hell out of whoever speaks after us.
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