Secret Weapon to Use During Q & A

Building on our prior article, "How to handle Q & A," a secret weapon follows that will make your answer strong and convincing. This formula keeps you focused on the client and is especially helpful with those broad questions like “Describe your communication style?” Or “What constitutes a change order?”
It is called the ST. A. R. formula. 

ST – Situation
A – Action
R – Results
Let’s play this out, say you are asked: “What constitutes a change order?” 
(First, always start with an overarching statement – like your philosophy or the culture your company holds about the topic.)
“We hate change orders!  Change orders often have a negative connotation in our industry and are more prevalent on hard bid projects.”  (Now, move into the ST.A.R. formula)
•    ST - Under the GMP, as is proposed for this project, we don’t anticipate any change orders from the construction side.  The only change order would come from a change in scope. (This is the situation as pertains to their job.)

•    A - Our early involvement during preconstruction allows us to thoroughly understand the project and assist the design team in filling in any gaps that may be discovered. Additionally, we review the scope with the subcontractors to ensure they have a complete and thorough scope and price as well. (The action you take to control and mitigate change orders.)

•    R - The result is a project that meets your expectations and meets the budget we developed early on. We have completed our last 5 projects with zero contractor change orders. (The result and benefit to the client with any proof and evidence you have to back your statement.)
This formula helps keep you focused on the client, their project, and the value your team brings to the project. 

In the last article on this topic, we will share things to avoid during Q & A.

Tips to Handle Q & A with Ease

Congratulations, you made it through the interview!  Now it is time for the Question and Answer (Q & A) portion.
Don’t fool yourself, you still need to prepare for and practice this portion of the interview.  But, how can you prepare when you don’t know what will be asked?  Simple, address these areas and you’ll be ready. 
1. Think about what you don’t want them to ask.

2. Review what you have been asked in previous interviews.
3. Understand the challenges facing their project and how you can mitigate them.
4. Review the information you have on the project.  Is the budget adequate?  How do you feel about the schedule? Do you have questions about systems or materials?
If you discuss these areas within your team, you will prepare yourself for the majority of questions that will be asked. 
Once you have a handle on the information that will likely be discussed, below are some tips to increase your confidence in your answers. 
First, remember, your purpose during Q&A is the same as it was during the presentation:  
Here’s how to approach every question.
1.  Listen.  Listen fully to the question. Don’t interrupt or start to answer the question because you THINK you know what is going to be asked.  Relax and listen to the entire question to understand what the client is looking for.
2.  Explore.  Q&A is the time when you can ask questions back!  If you don’t understand what the client is looking for or the question seems vague, ask for more clarification.  Explore what the client is really after, so you can properly answer.
3. Respond.  Only after you have listened and fully understood the question, then you give your response.  Keep your answer concise and keep reinforcing your team’s strengths and differentiators. 

This is part 1 of a 3 part series on Q & A.   
The next article will share a formula to help us handle difficult questions.


Delivery Matters – Six tips to look and sound better in your next presentation

So you’ve made the short list and have an interview with a perspective client. Don’t only focus on the content – your message – You must be able to deliver that message as well.  Having the right content that is focused on their project, their challenges and demonstrating that you’ve solved similar issues in the past, is only half of the equation. The other half is how that message is delivered and how it connects and resonates with the listener.

1. Be yourself. Relax. Don’t try to be something you are not and never try to memorize your part. You are not an actor. Clients are not looking for a polished perfect presenter – just be your straight-forward, trustworthy, authentic self and convey your ideas about their wants and needs.

2. Stay still.  This means planting your feet, no dancing, swaying, or pacing. Pretend you are an old oak tree; firmly rooted into the ground. Your base – the trunk – doesn’t move.  Not even in the strongest winds. Planting yourself gives you power and authority.

Then, when you want to move, do so and do it with purpose. This creates meaningful movement and stops the distraction of swaying and pacing. Moving without purpose is distracting and makes the speaker look nervous.

3. Use your hands. Most people get into trouble when they try to keep their hands down.  Inevitably they end up getting clasped behind the back looking like an inmate or in front in the fig leaf position or holding on to one another in a death grip or twisting motion. Keep your hands up and apart and use them in appropriate gestures that reinforce your message. 

4. Be passionate. Use your voice to convey energy, excitement and passion. Vocal emphasis and inflection sparks interest in your audience. (This also works in normal conversation.) Remember your pacing: If you speak fast, slow down just a tad; if you’re slow, pick it up. You want a good conversational pace that is easy to listen to.

5. Be trustworthy – make eye contact.  Don’t just scan the room. Scanning is what we do to assess a situation. We do this to take note of our surroundings and it indicates a state of wariness. Like when we walk to our car at night.

When speaking, actually lock eyes with someone for a couple of seconds. And make it a habit to make a connection with everyone on the selection committee! This creates a genuine connection and builds trust.

6. Be Positive. Don’t use “Wimpy Words” when you talk to others. Refrain from

“Try”    “Hopefully”   “Maybe”    “Might”    “Probably”   “I think”  “I believe”  

as these words undermine the connection you are trying to make. They reveal your underlying fear, uncertainty, and lack of confidence.  Your listener equates this to your lack of commitment to the project.

Just listen to: “I think we can meet your schedule.” or “I hope we can make your budget work.” Would you hire this team? NO WAY! Owners want to hire the team that knows they can design or build their project!

Owners want to have confidence in the team they select to build their projects. It’s the DELIVERY that creates that FEELING of confidence and it is the DELIVERY that tips the scales and wins projects. 

A Heartfelt Thank You!

Thank you to all who attended the open house and book signing.

What an honor to see so many clients and friends at the release of BE!


Congratulations to our door prize winners -

Jesus Moncada, P.E., Jacobs
Todd Berry, LEED AP, CHC, Howell Construction
Dennis Richard, V.P., GTC

they receive a one-hour workshop and a copy of the book. 

Open House and Book Signing Party

Join us for an open house and book signing to celebrate the release of

BE...The Winning Presentation

Monday, January 30, 2017

4:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Infinite Monkey Theorem

3200 Larimer Street

Denver, CO 80205 



Name *

The Client Interview a.K.A. the 'Short List' Presentation

The industry is going strong, you’ve made the short list, but is your firm ready to compete and win the interview?  The following is an except from my new book BE…The Winning Presentation – The essential handbook to master the short list interview and win more work.  

The client interview is frequently one of the most overlooked aspects of a project pursuit.  While everyone sharpens their pencils on the cost estimate and works and reworks the schedule to the nth degree, in comparison, very little time and effort is spent preparing for the one chance you have to actually be face to face with your prospective client and discuss their project and unique needs. It likely is not a coincidence that the interview is also the most feared aspect of the process. It is well known that public speaking is frequently one of people’s top fears. This is particularly true of the highly skilled technical professionals found in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) firms. These technical professionals are generally not trained to present their thoughts and ideas in front of a diverse group of individuals, yet that is exactly what you need to do to win. 

 In the end, every firm that has been short-listed and is interviewing to design or build the project is qualified. The ONLY thing you can do to affect the outcome at this point is to give the best presentation, one that connects with the client and persuades them that you are the best choice for the project.

No Dog and Pony Show Allowed

You’ve already submitted a proposal that educated and informed them about your qualifications, capabilities, and firm history. If the client didn’t think you were qualified to do the project, you wouldn’t be at the interview.  In fact, in the mind of the client, every firm that is interviewing is capable of doing the project. 

The clients don’t want a rehash of your proposal; they are more savvy and sophisticated than that! The traditional ‘Dog and Pony Show’ is out. Sure, that approach used to win work years ago and it didn’t take much effort to prepare for that kind of presentation.

Those days are past.

Now, the client wants to meet your team and see and hear more. Now, you must persuade the client you are the right company for the job. You must make an emotional connection with the client. I know what you are thinking… we are contractors – we don’t show emotion… By emotional connection I mean, you must demonstrate a deeper understanding of the client’s emotional needs and concerns. You must understand what their fears are, what is keeping them up at night.

What your Clients Want

Let’s take a step back and look at what our clients say about the interview process. I have conducted hundreds of debriefs with clients, both public and private to better understand the selection process and what they look for and what tips the scales during the interviews. I want to share the following trends and comments that rose to the top.

We don’t want a ‘sales’ presentation. We wanted to know what they knew about us.”

“The losing presentation was canned and sounded generic. The winners’ presentations were totally geared towards us.”

“The winning team had a very detailed approach, especially when it came to showing us how OUR issues would be solved.”

Notice how not even one respondent said they needed more info about you or your firm?

The teams that connected, the teams they remembered, all had built TRUST and not only showed, but proved to the client that they could successfully deal with and solve the challenges of their project.

At the end of the day, your clients are looking for the “SAFE CHOICE”: The firm that can get it done and make them look good.  

Here are three ways you can make a stronger, lasting connection with your audience.

1. Show them you understand the risks of their project.

The client must know that you understand their project, the possible challenges and risks that go along with it. Spend time reviewing drawings, visit the site, understand everything about the goals and vision for their project and any roadblocks that could be encountered along the way. And discuss these during the interview. Let the client know you’ve done your homework and understand their situation.

2. Discuss how you can solve their challenges.

You’ve done your homework and understand their issues, now you must come up with solutions and how your team will deal with these challenges. That doesn’t mean coming in to the interview with their project already designed. But it does mean that you have given thought to and have concepts in mind and can solve the issues they will be facing.

3. Prove you’ve solved similar challenges.

Remember, your potential client is looking for the ‘Safe Choice’, the team that has ‘been there – done that’ and done it successfully. This is where you show the client where you have faced and dealt with similar issues and how you successfully overcame those challenges. Caution: don’t confuse this with simply showing the client pictures of 10 other similar projects you have completed. They are wanting more than that – they want (and need) you to connect the dots – specifically for them. It’s finding very specific and detailed examples of past projects that faced similar challenges. Then, as you are addressing their concerns and talking about how you mitigate that risk – or solve that challenge, you follow-up with the exact example of where you solved that same issue previously. 

See the difference? When you showcase your previous experience in this manner, it holds more credibility with the owner and builds that emotional connection you are striving to achieve.

Lasting persuasion and connection starts with the right content; understanding your client, their concerns and challenges, and having the right solutions.


With great thanks to you!

As 2016 draws to an end, I wanted to wish you a very Merry Christmas and thank you for your support and encouragement.  It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly 13 years since I founded Marketing Evolutions, and I wouldn’t be able to do the work I care so deeply about without friends and clients like you. 

It is with great excitement that I announce my book -

BE…The Winning Presentation

The essential handbook to master the short list interview and win more work.  

This handbook was written for busy technical professionals to understand how to prepare and present a dynamic and winning presentation. It’s loaded with tips and techniques you can immediately put to use and personalize to every situation.  

Bookmark_FINAL copy.jpg

I have a true passion for helping teams improve their presentation skills and win work. There is no greater success than watching a team come together, deliver a killer presentation, and win the job!  

I wanted to be able to help more people and reinforce the training that I provide. I want to help you continue to master the interview and be more successful.  This book will do just that.   

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your continued success.

Here’s to a prosperous 2017 and BEing your best!


Mark your calendar, and please join me for an open house and official book signing on Monday, January 30, 2017 at the Infinite Monkey tasting room, 3200 Larimer Street, Denver 4-7 pm


Can’t wait that long?  BE… is available now on, & Amazon.