Home > Leadership, The Monday Musings Column > the oddest presentation I’ve had to make

the oddest presentation I’ve had to make

It’s a bright February morning as the sales team arrive in two cars, with the low sun shining bright off the disappearing frost. This is a big morning, for they are due to present as one of five short listed suppliers for a deal that will be worth at least £5m over the first three years of the contract on offer and, if they win, there is a lot more that they can do for this client.
The team of four spent the previous evening rehearsing the presentation, a pretty normal 20 minutes plus another 20 for questions session, and have taken this seriously enough to have hired someone in to critique the pitch for them as part of the preparation. They’ve also taken the precaution of having two laptops and two projectors and have tested the presentation on all combinations of those devices; they’ve tried to take every precaution.
The client offices are a modern four story block set on a slight rise in a business park outside the city. The car park is set out with contrasting brick paving and this is where the first potential glitch occurs, for the Sales Director sets off from his car pulling the wheeled case containing the primary laptop and projector behind him; the bid manager is carrying his to avoid rattling it around too much.
Safely into reception and signed in they have a few minutes and so the primary kit is fired up and checked; there is a lot of adrenaline flowing and fuses are short. The kit is working fine though despite its rough passage and is packed away ready just as the preceding bidders emerge from the lifts. At this level everyone knows everyone else and so the teams acknowledge each other from a distance and our team tries to assess the others. What does their body language suggest?
Such musings are cut short by the arrival of the host and the team head up to the top floor where they are shown into a long, narrow room. Three tables have been inserted end to end along the room with seven chairs on each side and one at either end of this arrangement. Windows adorn one long side and one short side of the room, the door is in the other short side leaving only the one wall for any possible attempt to project the presentation, but the low sun blazing in through the windows means there is no chance of being able to see the slides against that light (it would mean all seven people that side having to turn around anyway).
The brief had called for a maximum of five people on the pitch team, but here the decision had been made to come with just four which was a wise call as there were just sixteen seats and there were thirteen people on the client team. No matter, whoever was talking would be standing anyway and the possibility of not being able to use a projector had been foreseen, so the pitch kicked off as soon as everyone was settled. The low sun and too many people made the room like a sauna, but the session was delivered to schedule and all too soon the team were on their way out to their cars and to head for a debrief over an early lunch in a local pub.
The above is true, for I was the bid manager concerned. It was one of the most bizarre presentations that I’ve done, but how about you? What are your stories of presentation mishaps? Leave your stories below.

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