In college I had the opportunity to design a project during my third year of architecture school. The assignment called for the construction of a model, floor plans and a series of presentation boards which highlighted images in two dimensions and three dimensions to illustrate the intent behind the overall solution to the problem presented.
If you are unfamiliar with architecture education, the classes are rigorous and are set up to allow for students to be given an imaginary client by the professor. Not only does the professor assign a client with a built-in program but he also establishes a timeline for completing a solution and meet the necessary requirements for presentation. This presentation usually involves your classmates and professor as well as a standing jury that takes pleasure in utterly scrutinizing your project from as many vantage points as possible.
For this particular assignment, we generated boards and models for the final presentation. Not every solution worked as some students missed key requirements. Others solved the problem, but their presentations fell short of winning the eye of their peers.
At the end of the day, the project most well received was accepted because of its overall presentation. Along with engaging our attention with a winning design, the student that caught the eye of all the jurors was the classmate that held his model up with both hands well above our line of vision and with a thrusting force slammed the model over his knee.
The model broke in half perfectly split down the middle showing two equal parts. My classmate then held up the two parts like the 10 Commandments and showcased the interior of the two sides of his model which complimented his boards. Now that’s a presentation. Of course every presentation can’t be that dramatic, but to create a place of connection with the class was an awe-inspiring point of presentation. Here I am 17 years later and I can still see the model and the looks on everyone’s face. His presentation made history.
So you represent a minority business. What is it that makes your company unique? Your package goes beyond the service you provide or the product you sell. As a business owner or aspiring employee, your brand starts with your appearance and ends with your product.
I had one of my fellow board members for a local organization tell me he has often walked out interviewees to their cars. If he looks in their cars and sees a mess, he won’t hire them. Though this was his practice for interviews related to an office administrator position, it goes to show that people are watching how you present yourself and making sure all the dots connect before they invest, hire, or partner with you.
Here are some key points that I have tried to be mindful of when presenting to an investor, client, future project business partner, and former bosses. I try not to state the obvious even when it plays to my advantage. For example, yes I am a minority. I am not trying to sell them on my need for them, but on their benefit of having me or my company available to them.
Try to think at the level of what the receiver is accustomed to seeing as a starting point and aim at exceeding their expectations. Presentation starts with listening and ends with clear communication in a display of images and or words. Use your words wisely. Present at the level that you can commit. If you over-present your ability and underperform, you disable your potential to be positioned to advance.
Lasting impressions highlight competence, ability and innovation. A polished presentation reveals a level of confidence, sophistication and professionalism that gives your position.
Do your research. When you are presenting your firm, idea, product or service make sure you know the end user and their habits well. The more you know your end user the more stable your presentation will be. If you are in a position to choose your location choose somewhere comfortable to you, but also make it inviting enough to keep the receiver of your presentation intrigued and attentive. Make sure you create lasting anchors with words, location, and images that give your presentation presence and staying power.
At the end of the day, your presentation will move you up the field or cause you to loose ground. Make sure you give yourself time and devoted focus to making the best presentation possible.
Presentation is everything!
Jesse J. Wilkerson is the principal of an architecture/design firm in Anderson. He is the host of 1240 AM WHBU’s Vision for Success. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.