Consultants like you sell your advice, ideas, and expertise rather than a product — but you still need to think about packaging.
Your presentation is the package your ideas arrive in, and that package tells your clients and prospects a lot about who you are. Great ideas wrapped in a mediocre presentation are like diamonds wrapped in old newspapers — the packaging makes people question the value of what’s being delivered.
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A great client presentation showcases your ideas in compelling ways, convinces your clients to accept your advice, and strengthens your image as an experienced and insightful consultant.
These seven consulting presentation tips will help you offer your ideas in a way that reflects well on your brand and impresses potential clients:
- Mind your brand
- Balance words and images
- Use high-quality visuals
- Craft a compelling introduction
- Consider your audience’s point of view
- Create virtual presentations
- Recap and look forward
1. Mind your brand
Your brand persona should be chosen deliberately to reflect your agency’s strengths and it should appeal to your target audience. Think about your brand and how your agency would act if it were a real person. Is your agency:
- A whiz kid who brings the latest ideas?
- A wizened advisor with a professorial attitude?
- A creative innovator with a fresh approach?
Your brand’s personality is expressed through your choice of colors, fonts, images, and layouts. Make sure your presentations reflect the same identity as your website and other promotional materials.
2. Balance words and images
Slides may help participants follow along and take notes but they don’t add a lot of power to your presentation. Neither do attractive images that just sit in the background while you speak.
The words and images you show your audience should bring clarity to what you’re saying. Here are some related consulting presentation tips:
- Charts, graphs, and infographics help visual learners understand numbers.
- Simplicity works. A single word in the center of a slide can illustrate a highly focused concept.
- Use humor — through cartoons, pop culture references, and incongruous images — to engage your audience.
- Introduce an unexpected image to surprise your audience and make them wonder what you’re about to say.
- Add images to foster emotional resonance and illustrate the impact of what you’re saying. Visuals can evoke concepts like family, danger, luxury, peace, and chaos.
If a visual element doesn’t drive home a point and enhance the information you’re presenting, keep looking until you find one that does.
3. Use high-quality visuals
Your visuals should be compelling and meaningful. Any images added to your presentations should reflect well on your brand. Confusing graphs, pixelated photos, and dated images can damage your professional image.
Here are some tips and resources for including top-notch images, charts, and graphs in your presentations:
- If you’re using charts created in Excel, keep them simple. Effects like drop shadows and 3D images can look muddy and detract from the impact of the graphic.
- It’s possible to create stunning graphs and charts in Powerpoint, especially if you have the right templates.
- Canva’s online graph maker helps you create charts, graphs, and diagrams to illustrate your points. The software is free, fast, powerful, and easy to use.
- Venngage is another free graphic maker you can use.
- Sites like Pexels offer free, professional photography. Search for concepts like “wealth” or “security” to find images that convey an emotional impact.
- Melanated Stock offers free, beautiful photography that can help ensure that your images reflect the diversity of your audience.
4. Craft a compelling introduction
Think very carefully about your opening sentence and first slide. They’ll set the tone for how receptive your audience is going to be.
You may be tempted to start by reviewing information your audience already knows, like what last year’s results were and why it’s important to try a new approach. If they’re tired of talking about topics like this, their interest level will drop immediately.
A better tactic is to open with an intriguing teaser of what you’re about to present. Tease the strongest, most compelling concept in your presentation and promise to go into full detail later on. Stay focused on results, which is what your audience cares about the most.
Here are some examples of great opening lines:
- “What if I told you that there’s a way to double the profit margin on your main product line?”
- “It turns out there’s just one factor that’s dragging down your employee morale, and it’s not hard to correct.”
- “Two-thirds of the people we surveyed are aware of your product, but most of them hold the same misconception about it.”
End your introduction with an overview of what you’re going to offer them. For example:
- “We’ve put together a five-pronged approach to solving your biggest problem.”
- “My team has come up with a system that will make it easy for you to stay on budget in the future.”
5. Consider your audience’s point of view
This may seem one of the most obvious consulting presentation tips on this list, but many presenters don’t do it. Everyone has endured a presentation where the speaker droned on about things that weren’t interesting to their audience. You don’t want to be that speaker.
Your listeners are busy. Their lives are complicated — and they may be hungry, tired, or stressed. Respect their time by giving them what they came for.
Why is your audience here and what do they want from you? Whether you’re giving a sales presentation or proposing solutions to a client, they probably want to talk mostly about potential results and perhaps the processes that lie ahead. They might enjoy digging into relevant data or hearing stories about organizations similar to their own that offer inspiration or warnings. But at some point, they’ll want concrete and actionable information.
If you must cover anything else — like background information, theory, or industry data — keep it very brief and to the point. Stay focused on presenting your audience with exactly what they want to know.
6. Create virtual presentations
During an in-person presentation, people’s minds might wander and their eyes may roam around the room — but eventually, they return to the screen.
If the attention of someone in your audience wavers while you’re presenting virtually, they may start multitasking or even leave the room. For that reason, it’s best to keep your virtual presentations shorter and more streamlined than you would in person.
Since you can’t easily watch your audience’s facial expressions to check their understanding in a virtual situation, plan ahead. Ask some questions or have interactive elements ready to make sure they’re following along with you.
Building some discussion time into each segment instead of waiting until the end is a great way to check everyone’s understanding and ensure that people are interacting with the material.
7. Recap and look forward
Because you can’t be certain whether you had each participant’s full attention while you were speaking, it’s a good idea to recap at the end. Take a moment to review each point in your presentation, and then integrate all the information into a coherent summarizing statement.
Wrap up by clearly stating the next steps in the process or whatever follow-up actions are relevant.
As you’re creating your next client presentation, remember that it’s the package in which you put forward your ideas to clients or prospects.
Follow best practices and keep the consulting presentation tips above in mind. Use high-quality images that enhance your words and reflect your brand identity. Start with an intriguing introduction, speak directly to your audience’s needs, and wrap everything up at the end with a summary and some action steps.
Ready for more? Take a look at Constant Contact’s The Download for more tips on digital marketing for consultants and professional service providers.