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11 Presentation Tips to Help Freelancers Get Ready for a Proposal Presentation

Sarah Bartley
Front-end web developer | Moderator for Elphas Can Code | Creator of Disney Codes Challenge
・13 min read

Originally published on July 12, 2019 on BritishPandaChick Codes. I made tweaks to the original post so it would work for Code Newbie.

Now that the proposal is written and sent to your client, all that is left to do is schedule the proposal presentation. Proposal presentations aren't like standard presentations. I like to think of these presentations as Q&A sessions rather than formal presentations.

Although they are less informal, freelancers still need to prepare for their proposal presentations since your presentation shows off what kind of freelancer you are like and how it will look like working with you. Today's post is looking at the proposal presentation. The proposal presentation is the next lesson of Skillcrush 300.

This lesson is meant to help students prepare for their first proposal presentation with a client. In this post, I'm going to share some of the preparation tips Skillcrush encourages students to be as confident as possible for presentation day. I will also review what objectives you need to accomplish during a proposal presentation and how to organize your presentation so it makes the best impression on your client.

So what are my objectives for the proposal presentation?

Your goal for the proposal presentation isn't to get a yes or no decision from your client. It is true that proposal presentations can help influence a client's decision, but that isn't what the proposal presentation is meant for. For your proposal presentation, you will have specific objectives you want to accomplish when you meet with your client.

As you plan your presentation, you will want to keep these objectives on your mind as you plan and practice your presentation. Your objectives are below.

  • Go over the proposal in detail. We'll cover this reason why later but this is probably the most important objective on this list. Proposal presentations are after all about the proposal itself. You aren't just going to review what is in the proposal. This is your chance to go into more detail about what you have written in your proposal. You can address any questions your clients have about the proposal.
  • Show your client you are there to support them. Actions speak louder than words and a proposal presentation speaks volumes to a client. It demonstrates that you are on a client's side and are there to help.
  • Present yourself as the best professional for the job. Proposal presentations are a preview of what working with you will be like.

Schedule the Presentation Day

Before you dive into all of today's tips, the first thing you want to do is schedule your presentation date and time. Although this presentation isn't mandatory, it is highly recommended by Skillcrush instructors and experienced freelancers. Do your best to find a date and time that works for your client.

There are a few ways this presentation can happen. You can meet in person, chat on the phone, or do a video chat. When scheduling your presentation, see if your client is able to meet in person. If the client is unable to or lives farther away, schedule a video chat.

What do I need for a proposal presentation?

Every proposal presentation is going to be different depending on where and when the presentation is happening. One presentation might happen in person at a coffee shop while another one can happen over Skype. Skillcrush provides students with a meeting checklist that runs over everything they need for the proposal presentation. In order to help you prepare for any scenario, I've put together a list of all the items you can use for your presentation no matter how you decide to do it.

The Mandatory Items All Freelancers Must Have

All freelancers need these items regardless of how you will be presenting your proposal. The most important item you need to have is your proposal. You will want to make sure your client has a copy of the proposal prior to the presentation and have extra copies prepared when you two meet.

Other items you will need are your portfolio and case studies. You might also want to bring some deliverables such as sample mock-ups, wireframes, or anything that can help explain the decisions you made in your proposal. I recommend you bring a pen and notepad to your presentation.

This way you can take notes on the feedback you get, actions that both parties agreed on, and more. You can use your copy of the proposal to jot down notes if you like. If you like to take digital notes, you can use your favorite note-taking app to help you.

Optional Items

These items will vary depending on the kind of proposal presentation you will be doing. Some items you will need in certain situations while others you can do without it. I recommend looking at this list and deciding what items best fit your proposal presentation. Don't forget to make sure you have backup items ready just in case you need them.

  • Laptop and power cord. You will want to make sure your computer is charged and ready to go. I also suggest checking any software or files you plan to use works. Make sure your computer is updated and working correctly. You don't want your computer to randomly start updating itself during your presentation. If you plan on presenting in a specific location, make sure your computer is able to connect to the wifi.
  • Flash drives, dropbox, or your iCloud account. This way any items you do need are on hand in case files you need go missing.
  • Video chat software. This software will vary depending on if you use a PC or a Mac. Popular options you can use are Facetime, Skype, and Zoom.
  • Headphones. I recommend having ones with a microphone. You can use your earbuds from your iPhone or a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
  • Quiet room. This is key if you are doing a video chat. You want a room where no one will interrupt you during your presentation.

Skillcrush Practice Plan

Now that you have the presentation scheduled, it is time to start practicing and planning your presentation. Each time your practice will get you closer to a polished presentation that will impress your client. You can practice as many times as you want to refine your presentation for the big day.

If you need some help figuring out how to start, Skillcrush puts together a practice plan to help their students prepare for the presentation. This plan shows students exactly how to practice and what they need to do in each step.

1. Solo Practice.

This is the first time you'll be practicing your presentation so you will want this time to be on your own. The goal for this practice is to get a sense of how the presentation will be like. As you move through your presentation, you will be able to see ways to incorporate your personal brand into the presentation and customize your presentation even more for your client. At the end of this practice, you should have a working version of your presentation.

How do you do a proposal presentation by yourself? There a few ways you can do this. One, you can practice in front of a mirror. Two, you can use a pet or a stuffed animal to go over your proposal presentation. You can even record yourself doing your proposal presentation so you can watch it again and take notes on what you can improve.

2. Practice with a partner.

Now that you've got an idea of how your presentation will be like, it is time to test it out on another person. The second time you practice your presentation should be done with a friend. This will allow you to get feedback from another person on what was good and what can be done to make it better.

Your presentation partner can be anyone from a friend, your partner, or even a member of your professional network. When it comes to picking your presentation partner, pick someone who is going to give you honest, clear feedback. So if you have a friend that is brutally honest, ask this person to be your presentation partner.

Treat your presentation partner as you would your client. Before you present the proposal, send your presentation partner any items your client might want to look at before the presentation. You will also want to send them a copy of the proposal to look over so your presentation partner can prepare too.

When you do meet your presentation partner, take notes on all the feedback they give since you'll be using this to improve your proposal later. Don't forget to thank your presentation partner when you are done for any feedback given during the practice.

3. Practice with all the feedback from your presentation partner.

Take all the feedback your presentation partner has given you and implement it throughout your presentation. Skillcrush is very vague with this step about how to practice but I recommend practicing twice for this step. The first part of this step is practicing on your own to see how you can work in your partner's feedback into your presentation. Once you incorporated all the feedback in your presentation, practice again with your presentation partner to get more feedback and most importantly see what they think of the changes you've made.

4. Repeat! Repeat! Repeat!

After the third practice, you just need to keep practicing until the presentation day. You can practice as much as you want. The goal of this step is to practice your presentation until you feel comfortable and ready for the big day.

Feel free to use this step to try other practice techniques I mentioned in steps one and two. You can practice with a different partner to get a different perspective on your presentation or using one of the other solo practice ideas I mentioned in step one.

How can I make my proposal presentation the best it can possibly be?

The presentation date is scheduled. You have started to practice. Now it is time to start refining your presentation until you feel confident and ready for the presentation day.

In order to accomplish the proposal presentation objectives above, you will want to break out your presentation skills. This means bringing out your own inner Tony Stark. Tony Stark's presentation skills are what help others understand what he's thinking in order to achieve a specific result. This is where these 11 tips come in.

Throughout this lesson, Skillcrush shares tips their instructors and teaching assistants use when they work with clients. All these tips are below. You can use these 11 tips to help you assemble the best presentation that will help you accomplish all the objectives we talked about earlier.

1. Practice in your presentation environment.

You don't have to do this step every single time you practice, but you should try to practice at least once or twice in a place similar to where you'll be doing the presentation on the big day. Practicing in your presentation environment will give you an idea of what it will be like and what you need to plan for. If you plan on presenting at a coffee shop, you will want to practice in a coffee shop around the same time your presentation will be at. Presenters doing a virtual presentation will want to practice on camera using their video chat software in the location you plan on doing your presentation from.

2. Use any items you need in the presentation as you practice.

This tip doesn't just help you ensure any software or equipment works. Practicing with any items you'll be using during your presentation helps you become using these items, making you seem confident and knowledgeable to your client. As you practice, using any software, tools or deliverables will help you get an idea of how you can best use these items during the meeting.

Remember freelancers like to prepare for any situation they might encounter. So you will want to practice a couple of times with any hard copies just in case your software or digital tools aren't working for the big day.

3. Send your client everything they need to help them prepare for the presentation.

Proposal presentations aren't just you being prepared for the big day. You will want to ensure your clients come prepared too so both parties are able to make the most of the time together. Before the presentation day, you will want to send your client a copy of the proposal, mock-ups, and any deliverables examples you plan on using during your presentation.

Virtual presenters will want to send their clients links they'll be using for the presentation including the link to the chat. If you aren't sure what else your client might like to see, ask your client if there are any other items they will like to see. I recommend sending these items a few days before the date of the scheduled presentation.

This way you can send them a reminder of when you two will be meeting and include any items they might want to look over before the presentation. As you practice, you will want to do this with your presentation partner so that person comes prepared for practice.

4. Open with the problem and solution.

The problem and solution serve as the thesis statement for a proposal presentation since it gets straight to the point of what the presentation is about. At the beginning of your presentation, you will want to start by summarizing the problem the client is facing or what goals the client wants to accomplish. Then you introduce the solutions that you'll be taking to solve each of the problems. Don't go into a lot of detail here since your entire proposal is where you'll go over how the solutions will resolve all the client's needs and issues.

5. Focus on the why.

When you start explaining the solutions, you will want to concentrate on why you made the decisions instead of restating everything in the proposal. You will want to make the most of your presentation time so use it as an opportunity to go over why you made certain decisions and how you arrived at specific numbers. This allows your client to understand how you were thinking when you were putting together your proposal. It also makes you look confident and knowledgeable, two traits clients often look for in a freelancer.

6. Explain the benefits a client will receive.

This is a favorite tip for many freelancers and many use this when they work with clients. As you explain how you arrived at everything written in the proposal, you will want to show your clients how these decisions benefit them specifically. Since the proposal already lists the features, the proposal presentation focuses on the impact the results bring and how these results will benefit the clients. Remember the goal isn't to repeat or restate everything in the proposal but instead to expand on what already has been written.

7. Walk your client through each deliverable.

Deliverables play an important role in your proposal presentation. They can support your reasons on why you made specific decisions and show clients what exactly they will be getting throughout the project process. When it comes to using deliverables in your presentation, the secret is to take your time. As you go over each deliverable, you will want to review everything your client will receive during the process and when your client will get each one.

8. Act graciously with any feedback your client gives you.

Skillcrush encourages students to pay attention to any defensive actions or feelings that might pop up during your presentation. Especially when you are getting feedback. Handling constructive criticism isn't easy, but you can become better at it. It starts with being aware of how you act when you do get feedback from others.

As you practice with your presentation partner, ask your partner to give you specific feedback on how you handle criticism. Do they notice specific behaviors or attitudes when they tell you about ways to improve your presentation? Your presentation partner will be able to observe and catch these habits while you practice so you know what to look out for and what you can work on.

9. Let your excitement show.

One of the goals for freelancing is giving your clients the best experience possible so they will want to work with you again. If your proposal presentation serves as your preview of what working with you will be like, you will want to make the best impression possible. Clients aren't just looking for the most knowledgeable person within a specific budget. They want to work with someone that will give them a positive experience.

You can show clients you'll be able to give them a positive by being open and excited. These qualities don't go unnoticed by clients and can help a client decide to accept your proposal. As you prepare for your presentation, pay attention to how you act during the presentation.

Do you sound excited? Are you being positive? Use your observations and feedback to help you make your presentation as transparent as you can.

10. Find a common ground with your client on what comes next.

As you get to the end of the presentation, it is time to talk about what comes next. Before you and your client end the meeting, both parties need to be in agreement on what the next steps will be. You need to do this regardless of which outcome you have with your client.

If your client wants a few things revised in your proposal, you can end the meeting with a date your client will receive the revised proposal. You can also schedule a second proposal presentation at this time to go over any of the revisions if your client wants one. If your client loves your proposal, you can end with getting a verbal agreement between the both of you and what steps will come next.

11. Send a thank-you e-mail.

This might be familiar advice, especially in regards to interviews since it gives the same benefits. You are letting your client know you appreciate them taking the time to meet with you and give feedback. Send your client a thank-you e-mail within 24 hours of the meeting. You can use the thank-you e-mail to review anything that was discussed during the meeting including an outline of the next steps in the process or dates when clients will receive specific items.

Conclusion

Congratulations! You are now ready for your proposal presentation. Now you know what to focus on during your proposal presentation and how to prepare for any situation that might happen when you meet with your client. Use all of Skillcrush's tips to help you plan and get organized for the big day.

The next post of Skillcrush 300 is the last lesson of Skillcrush 300. This lesson is about the project agreement. The project agreement is different from the proposal since it serves as the informal contract between you and your client as well as establishing the workflow for the project. I'll be reviewing why they are a must-have item for freelancers and how you can set one up with your client before you start working on a project.

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