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.