Land that Government Contract: Tips for Presenting to the
By Marsha Lindquist
company that does contract work for the federal government knows
that oral presentations are a part of the game. Unfortunately,
because giving a federal government presentation is so different
from a typical business presentation, many companies don’t receive
as many contracts as they’d like.
that the federal government is not your typical audience. They come
into the room and may or may not shake hands and greet you. All the
federal government members stoically sit on one side of the table,
and you and your team sit on the other. They cannot react to
anything you say, and they cannot comment on anything until the
question and answer time. Essentially, while you’re presenting, you
get no feedback, no body language, and nothing to indicate whether
you’re doing okay.
Additionally, the federal government sees many different groups of
people present to them each day. And they often watch the same kinds
of materials being presented repeatedly. They score you with a point
system every step of the way, and they reward the contract to the
company with the most points. So in order to stand out, catch their
attention, and get the highest score, you need to present materials
that are different and unique.
you’re tired of continually presenting for federal contracts and
rarely getting picked, perhaps it’s time to brush up on your
presentation skills. While the actual specifics of presenting to the
federal government are complex and the topic goes very deep,
following are some initial tips to get you on the right path.
Steps to Presentation Success: All federal government
presentations have three distinct informational phases: 1) the
people who will work on the project, 2) the project’s management,
and 3) the company’s problem solving abilities. Let’s go over each
Present the people behind the project: During the first phase
you need to talk about the individuals who will be working on the
project. These are the actual hands-on key personnel who get named
in the proposal and who the government will be interacting with, not
the ghostwriters who crafted the proposal in the background.
sure you present information that’s new and different, not the same
data you already covered in the written proposal. Remember, in the
written proposal phase you’ve likely already given resumes of the
key personnel. You’ve already covered each person’s past
accomplishments and educational background. Now you want to give the
federal government insight to the people behind the team.
each key personnel member speak for him or herself, with the focus
being how your past personal experiences translate to your current
professional life, and how that specifically impacts the project
you’re now presenting on. When you’re done, always talk about the
features of “you” and the benefits of why you need to be on the team
for this project. Give insight about yourself that can’t be gleaned
from a piece of paper. Show how your experience has significance to
the project. Most organizations that present orals to the federal
government never go beyond what they supplied in the written
proposal, and that’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
Present the project management aspect: The next phase you’ll
present is how you’ll manage the project. Some things to consider
and include in your presentation are: How is your organization set
up? How are you set up to handle problems? Who are the players who
handle problems? How do you draw on other pieces of your
organization, not just the key personnel? How do you draw on other
strategic alliances or subcontractors? How does everyone, internally
and externally, work together? What are some of your established
processes? What have you done on other projects that are similar to
the one you’re proposing to the federal government now? In essence,
the federal government wants to know about “you the
organization”—what you’ve done in the past that proves what you can
do in the future.
have covered a lot of this information in your written proposal, but
now you’re revealing the live and in-person part of it. One of the
deadliest things to do during this phase is present your materials
in a “hum-drum” kind of way. You need to exude excitement about the
organization and show your passion for the project. You need to talk
about not only each individual’s commitment to the project, but also
how the organization as a whole and the management team is committed
to the project.
Present the problem solving process: For many companies, this
final phase—the problem solving simulation—is the most difficult.
It’s also the one piece most organizations do not spend enough time
practicing. As such, they lose a lot of points here, often resulting
in missed opportunities.
challenge is that many people presume that because their team has
tackled many problems together in the past, they don’t need to
practice problem solving now. Nothing could be further from the
truth. Even if you’re a group of seasoned problem solvers, you still
need to practice how you solve a problem.
you possibly practice problem solving? Quite simply, you have
someone from the outside (preferably a consultant) present you with
case study problems that you have typically faced in the past. It
could be a technological problem, a community problem, an HR
problem, a financial problem, or even a terrorist problem. There are
so many different problems that can come up in the course of you
doing business. You then simply need to practice with the entire
team how you would solve the problem.
do this for the federal government, they’ll present you with a
possible problem, give you some time to conference about the problem
and ask questions, and then they’ll watch how you solve the problem.
Realize that the federal government doesn’t care what your final
solution is; they care about your approach to the problem. They’re
watching how you solve problems and how you work together as a team.
That’s why you need to practice this problem solving simulation on a
daily basis for two to three weeks straight before going live in
front of the federal government. The more you practice problem
solving, the better you’ll do as a team.
Secure Your Future with Government Contracts: Working with the
federal government can be both professionally and financially
rewarding. The key is knowing how to give a winning oral
presentation that earns you the contract. By recognizing how federal
government presentations differ from typical business presentations,
and then practicing accordingly, you can land more contracts quickly
and easily, and positively impact your company’s bottom line.
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about Marsha Lindquist.
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