How to Present a Business Proposal to a Client: Try Thinking Like a Theater Producer

The good news is that your business proposal has been short listed. Even better, at a client presentation, you could win the whole thing outright. Every bidder wants the opportunity to present to the client, even if it’s scary. You must demonstrate, in your own words, assisted perhaps by video, website and props, why the client should choose you over the competition. Look at it as theater. Your cast of characters has to convince the audience that, thanks to rave reviews, you deserve the job.

Like a producer, you have to figure out the best way to present to the client. Is it how you intend to execute the project, and the role you expect client staff to play? Or, if the client’s convinced you can do the job, is it about the relationship between your people and their people? Will it work? Can you be counted on to complete the project on time, or go the extra mile? If you can show how other clients have valued working with you, the project could be yours.

Many presentations I’ve been involved with, like sales meetings and product introductions, contain theatrical elements. How will this new vehicle be revealed? How will you acknowledge a great sales team and encourage even greater success next year? The client must be confident that you can deliver. After all, they’re paying for it. Before you rehearse, you identify the role each team member must play. Your job is to describe the overall picture, the flow of the presentation, and draw together the final threads. In between, your team, such as your stage director, speech writer, video producer and web designer, discuss their roles and answer any questions.

How long do you have for this presentation, and where will it be presented? Can the client provide any needed equipment, or should you bring your own? Where anything is likely to cause a problem, keep it simple. Don’t complicate things, and test that everything is working before you begin. You do not want embarrassing moments where the video fails to cut in at a critical moment. And stick to that time limit!

This is your presentation, not the client’s, so you direct it. You tell the client, at the start, what will happen and who does what; they may be shown a sales video, a website, even a live performance. But keep this in mind. This is not a read through. The client expects you to bring your business proposal alive. I’ve watched read-through presentations and they are deadly dull. It’s tough to watch client faces glaze over.

If you’ve been asked to present your proposal, try thinking of it as a theater production. Team members must know their roles and be well rehearsed. And finally you, the lead actor, must from the beginning, hook your audience and command the stage.