As you likely know, during my career I made presentations to contractors, and now to lawyers, I have always tried to “work the room” before the presentation. I showed up early and went around meeting the audience members as they came in the room.

If you have ever heard me speak, you know I had lots of energy. When iPods came out, I would get ready for a presentation by listening to Tina Turner Live at Wembley Stadium. Today, if I want to ramp up my workout, listening to TT can do it for me.

But, there is more to giving a great presentation and there are some mistakes you want to avoid. Here are my thoughts.

I am frequently asked what was my most important client development effort, I always answer that speaking to contractors was by far the best return on investment for me.


In my work with many lawyers, I have discovered that many do not know how to make presentations that will result in new business. They make these mistakes:

  1. They pick a topic that interests them rather than one that addresses the need of their audience.
  2. They are unable to explain succinctly why the audience should be interested in their presentation.
  3. They do not research their audience.
  4. They do not rehearse/practice their presentation in advance.
  5. They do not spend enough time in the actual room and with the IT staff to make sure everything is going to work.
  6.  They stand behind the podium, which blocks them from their audience.
  7.  They do not spend the first 90 seconds answering the most basic audience question: “What’s in this for me?”
  8. They tell lame jokes that no one cares about.
  9. They use their PowerPoint slides as a crutch, with bullet points and many words. Even worse read what is on the slides.
  10. They weakly close by asking if there are any questions or by saying: “in conclusion.”

Want to improve your presentations? Check out this Forbes article: Making An Effective Presentation.

The first–and most important–part is to make an emotional connection with the audience, because without it the presenter’s message will not be fully heard. The second is to generate and maintain a high level of energy to hold the audience’s attention through the whole presentation. The third is to focus the content on the payoff for the audience.

I have taught the lawyers I coach how to get business and clients from presentations. I call the program: “Anatomy of a Presentation: How to Get the Opportunity and Give One That Will Get You New Business.”

I demonstrate how and why I was able to generate new business and clients using an actual presentation I gave several times to Construction industry groups.

Do you have a presentation coming up that could make a big difference in your career? Want some help? Want some feedback?

You might even want to find someone to put your slides in Prezi.

Did you read the blog I posted yesterday? My friend Craig, a University of Nebraska grad read it and sent me this email:

Thanks for allowing me to waste 10 minutes of my morning watching your team come out onto the field. Looks like fun.

It is fun indeed. I didn’t tell Craig that according to Real Clear Sports it’s number 1 entrance in college football: 1. Exit Light, Enter Night. Why is it number 1? I think it is because of the energy in the stands.

Then the bass line from Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” starts. Fans begin jumping up and down. The band is lined up outside of the tunnel. The music hits the crescendo, the team rushes out of the tunnel, the fireworks explode, and Lane Stadium becomes one of the loudest stadiums in college football – and they haven’t even started playing yet.

We, of course hope that the team entering the stadium is not the best thing that happens Monday night.

So, “Exit light. Enter night”. Monday night 8:00 PM EDT ESPN. See you back here on Tuesday.