More and more federal agencies are turning to hands-on methods to compete their contracts and evaluate offerors. Though not new, the use of oral presentations as a means of evaluating contractor proposals is on the rise. As more agencies begin adopting this approach to evaluate offerors, companies need to understand the keys to success with this form of proposal evaluation.
When it comes to winning a contract today, it’s more than technical knowledge and experience. Colleagues and teaming partners must understand the nuances of presentation style, storytelling, and collaboration to effectively convey technical acumen and company culture, all while being responsive and compliant with the Government’s instructions.
We’ve put together the top five things to keep in mind when preparing for your next orals presentation.
1. Treat orals slides like a proposal volume.
Analyze the requirements and present what is asked for, in the order in which it is required. Develop an “outline” of your orals presentation based on the RFP requirements, similar to what you would do with a proposal response. Break your content into modules and allocate these important factors in each module:
- Number of minutes to present for each slide
- Number of slides per module
- Name of the presenter for each module
- Proposal themes, messages, and solutions
- Draft titles and takeaway messages
Remember! Your orals presentation should not contradict your written proposal.
2. Be thoughtful when choosing your presenters.
Orals presentation requirements often require key personnel to attend and present, so consider the need for presenters when determining key personnel. Select people who understand the customer and are likable presenters. Remember that everyone benefits from coaching, even the most seasoned, executive-level presenters.
Pro tip: Consider assigning understudies. If you have back-up presenters on deck, this could be lifesaver if one of your key presenters is not able to attend the day of the presentation.
3. Be flexible.
We typically recommend that the whole team gets together in-person for dry runs and rehearsals. However, in the midst of the pandemic where most everything is done virtually, your team will have to adapt and practice your presentation virtually. Team members will have to be patient with each other, as we’re all navigating this new way of life. Be flexible and understanding of your colleagues and the process. And be sure to identify challenges up front, so that you can address them early on.
4. Prepare for the space.
Most orals presentations have been shifted to a virtual setting, as a result of the COVID pandemic. But it is still important to prepare your space for the presentation. This includes working through the logistics and technical aspects of the video conference platform you are using and making sure your background looks clean and professional. Do a dry run in the actual space you are presenting and at the exact time of day to ensure that the lighting is adequate.
Pro tip: Invest in a selfie light ring that you can attach to your laptop or monitor. This will ensure that your is lighting is on point.
5. Put on your game face.
An orals presentation is not a slide show. Think of it as a job interview. The government is trying to determine: “Do I want to work with these people?”, “Do they have the skills to solve my problems?” So remember that the team is the show; they are more important than the presentation content. Dress as you would for a job interview – business attire, keep jewelry to a minimum, stick with solid colors instead of flashy patterns. When presenting, avoid filler words, such as “ummm” and “so”. And remember to practice handoffs and transitions in advance.
Pro tip: Put your game face on even when you’re not presenting. Direct your attention to your teammate who is presenting. Show that you are interested in and supportive of what your teammate is saying.
An orals presentation is an opportunity for your team to “show off” and prove that you are a cohesive, likable team that can get the job done. Show the evaluators how you work as a team and tell the customer what they need to know and what your message means to them. Show genuine enthusiasm for your team, your solution, and how you can help your customer. Most importantly, stay positive!