Want to wow your current and prospective clients at your next presentation? The bad news is there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Just as you may prefer to attend presentations that include more data and less discussion, your clients may prefer the opposite.

The good news is that the more you can find out about your clients’ needs, preferences, and level of knowledge—both before and during your presentation—the more you’ll engage them. If you’re an introvert, you can play to your strengths, such as: researching to become well informed about your audience; thinking deeply about their challenges and your solutions; and listening attentively during meetings with them to ensure you tailor your message.

Stepping into your clients’ shoes

You don’t have a crystal ball, so how can you know what your clients are thinking? Chances are you’re already knowledgeable about your subject or you wouldn’t have earned a seat at the table. But how knowledgeable are you about your clients? Not gaining that knowledge can look like this: clients slumped in their seats, pretending to be interested, yawning, checking their wristwatches a lot, and/or playing Angry Birds while you’re talking. If you’re not already adept at reading nonverbal signals, pick up a book on the topic, like Louder Than Words by Joe Navarro. Another treasure trove of tips to step up your game as a presenter is The Power of Communication by Helio Fred Garcia. My book, Self-Promotion for Introverts®, also contains information about the verbal as well as nonverbal aspects of giving a successful presentation.

Cheat sheet for targeting your clients

Want a little preventative medicine? The following cheat sheet will help you organize your “intel” efforts so you’ll target your clients more effectively before and during your next presentation.

  1. Take their pulse. If it’s appropriate and feasible to reach out to your clients before you present to them, prepare three questions to ask them via e-mail or phone. Having more information before you enter the room will be particularly helpful if you’re an introvert because you prefer thinking about things before you speak.
  2. Tap into other sources of information. Identify other people and resources (e.g., online searches, LinkedIn.com) that can help you learn more about your clients. This is where you get to use your introvert’s detective skills.

  3. Learn who the key decision makers are. Find out as much as you can about them. For example, have they engaged services such as yours or your firm’s in the past? If so, what have their experiences been?
  4. Anticipate your clients’ potential reactions and objections. Consider what this client is likely to find most and least attractive about your pitch. What are the gaps you need to fill before “showtime”? Also, prepare responses to tough questions.
  5. Get your pitch down cold. Practice stating specifically how your firm’s offerings are best for this client. If possible, ask someone to videotape your pitch (i.e., point your smartphone at you practicing!). Remember: Many introverts don’t like speaking impromptu; if that’s you, practice is the key to sounding confident. Always have a compelling opening line up your sleeve to command your audience’s attention from the start.
  6. Determine what you can offer. Get clear about which challenges you can and cannot address for your clients.
  7. Enlighten your clients. Introverts are often sponges for information. Share the wealth; educate your clients on their areas of interest.

  8. Speak their language. Avoid jargon and acronyms that your clients may not know.
  9. Get clear on your role in the presentation. If you’re presenting with colleagues, do a dry run with them. If time is tight, at least get a consensus on who will present what, and when.
  10. Prepare for a course correction. If you feel your audience slipping away, determine how you’ll rein them back in. For example, simple language like, “I’m sensing that you would find something else more interesting. What can I do to make this presentation more relevant to you?” Draw on your listening skills to hone in on their response.
  11. Next steps. Determine what action you would like your client to take as a result of your presentation. Also, decide how you can follow up most effectively.
  12. Reflect, regroup, and learn for next time. If your colleagues attended or presented with you, have a “post-mortem” meeting to compare notes about what worked and what you can all do better next time. If you’re an introvert, take time to reflect and gather your thoughts before that meeting.

Copyright © 2012 Nancy Ancowitz

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