IT'S A SKILL AS OLD AS TIME AND IT'S NOT ANY LESS IMPORTANT BECAUSE YOU'RE A FREELANCER.
Starting off freelancing, it’s easy to fall into the mindset of “I’ll never need to do any of the things I used to do as an employee.” This may be true of practices like team-building exercises (good riddance). Large meetings on the other handle, will certainly come up now and again. The work freelancers do can’t always just be handed in to your clients like a high school paper. The work you do may often need to be presented, especially if you worked on it alone in a vacuum for a while. In fact, you may want to present your work to best help your client understand it and leave them with a positive experience. If it’s been a while since you’ve done this, or never liked it to begin with, there are some keys to keep in mind when nailing the big presentation.
STRUCTURE & CONSISTENCY
Electronic slides are arguably the best way to present information to anyone, period. While he was a phenomenal public speaker, Steve Jobs heavily relied on his Keynote presentations. Here’s a tip you’ll hear from experts anywhere: less words, more visuals. People process images far more quickly than they do words, and reading words off a screen is not the way to grab anyone’s attention. Have essential points written on a screen accompanied by images, graphs, charts, and other visuals to accentuate those points.
Constructing a pitch-deck is a great organizational tool when presenting your services and plans to clients. If you’re wondering what to incorporate, here is a checklist of basic potential components:
1. Introduction: Short recap of who you are, what you were hired to do, etc. Use this section to define your value proposition as well
2. Address the problem: What problem are you trying to solve for the client?
3. Target audience: Who are you solving the problem for? Who will benefit the most from your work?
4. Opportunity: What opportunity does this problem present for the client?
5. Solution: How are you going to use the opportunity to solve the aforementioned problem?
6. Competition: Who are some potential competitors for your client in this space? How will the solution you’ve presented be better and more unique than those competitors?
7. Revenue models/business plan: What are the logistics involved? How will actually accomplish the solution you’ve proposed to your clients?
8. Financials/investments: How much will this solution cost your client?
9. Next steps: What’s the first thing that needs to be done after the conclusion of this presentation?
PERSONALIZATION & LOGISTICS
You should know your clients well enough to determine the tone and style of your presentation. Is your client slightly goofy, often cracking jokes? If so, feel free to insert some jokes into your presentation. Maybe start with some chit-chat before diving into the work. If your client is more stoic and serious, then maybe avoid that. Stay professional and get right into the meat of it.
If the medium you’ve used to share content with your client has been PowerPoint up until now, don’t suddenly switch to Keynote. If you aren’t sure what file format to put your presentation in then feel free to ask. Make sure to be very clear on the time of the meeting and how long the client has to hear your presentation. Build your presentation in accordance with that time limit. Run the presentation through to determine it’s exact length (be sure leave extra time for questions and discussion). If you need the people attending your presentation to familiarize themselves with certain content beforehand, give them at least a full 24 hours to do so. If you have content to share but don’t need them to read it before the presentation, don’t give it to them until after you’re finished. If you give them a handout during the meeting they’ll be splitting their attention between you and the handout.
STAND AND DELIVER
You have a killer presentation, a time slot to present it, and a comfortable relationship with a client. Time to give a convincing and thorough presentation. Easier said than done. Public speaking comes naturally to some, but for many it’s their biggest fear. Whatever information you’re presenting, know it inside and out. Prepare yourself to answer tricky questions. Being able to answer a question, even just one question, effectively and efficiently quells any doubts about your work. Make sure that your tone is conversational and open to additional discussion. You don’t want to sound unconfident, but you also don’t want to sound so resolute that the clients thinks you’re unwilling to hear their opinion.
Do not just read verbatim what is on your slides. Slides are for visuals and key points and that’s it. Everything else said in the presentation should come directly from your mouth. Not only does reciting written text make you seem lacking in confidence, it’s simply boring. Make sure you practice this presentation over and over. If you need some assistance, you can write some points on flashcards, but only use them to help you remember what to say. Do not rely on them fully. It’s your job to keep a client focused. They’re giving you their time, you need to fill it with something valuable.
Presenting your work can actually provide a great opportunity to connect with a client in a career where clients come and go so often. Jump at the opportunity, and come prepared.