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#16: Practice Your Briefings With A Tough Crowd

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, March 30, 2009
Updated: Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Even though I am confident our firm does great work, I still get nervous when presenting a major briefing to a client. How can I get better at this?

Your desired outcome in communicating results is for your client to understand, remember, and have confidence in your work. Your job is to make sure your presentation includes all relevant findings and recommendations and that you are confident in your material. The stakes are high, given that the client is relying on your team to come up with the "perfect" answer to their challenges. Being nervous is perfectly acceptable, especially if the alternative is overconfidence.

Here is where we have an opportunity to better serve clients. We normally focus on assembling our content in a robust presentation of which we are justifiably proud. However, we polish our content far more than we polish our delivery. This runs two risks. First is that we are not as sure as we might be that all possible reactions to the material have been considered. Second is that we are not as confident in our delivery as we might be. Spending more time practicing delivery of your briefings would improve client service in both areas.

Tip: As the saying goes, "Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect." Find a colleague to act as your client for practicing your presentation. Deliver your briefing in the same setting you will deliver it to your client. Familiarize them with the client and ask them to be really tough with you - ask questions, give alternative interpretation of your findings, and challenge your recommendations. Then go back, armed with these reactions, polish both your content and delivery. Your client will be better served as a result.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  client service  communication  meeting preparation 

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