Are you a chronic sufferer of sweaty palms or someone who loves to soak up the spotlight? Either way, it really doesn’t matter — you need to nail this client presentation.

While many of us dreamt of leaving formal presentations in our schooldays, client-based work is largely dependent on communicating ideas. More importantly, communicating those ideas well.

Although anyone can stand in front of a crowd and deliver a speech, few ever truly master the art of presentation.

If you feel like your client presentation skills are holding you back from entrepreneurial success, you’re not hopeless. In fact, a few simple tips could be all it takes to land that next contract.

5 Tips for a More Engaging Client Presentation

In an age when so much professional communication travels by phone, email, and even video, why does the formal presentation still reign supreme?

The first step of any quality presentation is building a relationship with your audience. Establishing such a relationship is what ultimately leads to the trust, understanding, and persuasion that will leave both you and your client feeling happy about the exchange.

For some presenters and public speakers, this comes naturally. For others, it must be learned and refined over time.

Unfortunately, we can’t teach you how to build rapport with a new audience in just a few short paragraphs. Again, this skill is one that takes dedication and practice to master.

However, we can teach you how to upgrade your presentation skills with a few quick and easy tips anyone can follow:

1. Survey your audience

Think of a good presentation as an essay. While there may be multiple moving parts, visuals, and even interactive questions in a presentation, it all starts with a basic outline.

If you don’t know what direction to take in your first draft, however, you’re in for some serious trouble before you even begin.

So, how do you know what direction to take your presentation and its overarching narrative?

Simple: Ask your client.

If you have the chance to speak with your client before putting together your presentation, take advantage of this great opportunity to hone in on their expectations and needs.

This is the most important step toward crafting a highly effective client presentation.

Plus, by knowing exactly what your client hopes to see from your presentation, you can avoid the mistake of covering countless topics with little-to-no depth. Instead, you can custom tailor your information precisely to the audience.

2. Summarize, summarize, summarize

Even brief presentations are packed with tons of information. Unfortunately, this means your client is bound to tune out, forget, or simply overlook key points.

While you can’t guarantee a 100 percent retention rate — even the most attentive audience can’t deliver on that promise — you can absolutely take steps to ensure the most important information sticks.

First, let your client know exactly what to expect at the top of your presentation.

When you want to make a major impact, it’s tempting to fill your presentation with twists, turns, and surprises. However, this isn’t necessarily the best strategy.

By including a list of bullet points covering the topics (and brief conclusions) of your presentation, you can ensure your audience is primed and ready to soak up the impending information.

At the end of your presentation, you should recap everything once more, really driving home your points.

And, of course, never hesitate to include a summary for your clients outside of the presentation itself, i.e., in a physical handout.

3. Get visual

What does a client presentation have over a written proposal or phone conference?

High-impact visuals.

With that said, there’s a right and a wrong way to handle visual elements in your next presentation. Do you know where you stand?

When it comes to delivering a top-notch, professional presentation, balance is key. However, many presenters make the mistake of leaning too much or too little on axillary visuals.

For instance:

You could stand in front of a nearly blank slideshow and deliver more of a speech than a multifaceted presentation. Or, you could flip through dozens of busy slides as you make interjectory comments here and there.

With the former scenario, you’re robbing yourself and your audience of the core benefits that come with delivering a client presentation.

But with the latter, you’re allowing your message to drown under the weight of (often unnecessary) graphs, animations, videos, and bullet points.

4. Encourage interaction

As already pointed out, the largest advantage of an in-person presentation is the relationship built between speaker and audience.

But if you fail to encourage interaction from your clients, you’re letting much of this potential slip away.

Just like there are subpar presenters, there are also subpar audiences. When faced with this rather common scenario, it’s ultimately your job to not just encourage but request participation.

The easiest way to accomplish this objective is through the clever use of questions throughout your presentation.

But not just any range of questions will do — asking questions for the sole purpose of getting an audience response is, quite frankly, a waste of everyone’s time. Instead, focus on using questions to emphasize existing points or teach new ones.

Remember: The questions you ask your audience are also an excellent learning opportunity for yourself.

You might be the one standing at the front of the room or leading the Skype call, but that doesn’t mean you’re not there to learn, as well. And if your presentation doubles as a proposal, such learning opportunities are invaluable.

5. Cut the fat

Nothing drags a presentation down like superfluous information:

All content, whether verbal or visual, that detracts from your core message needs to go.

When editing your client presentation before the big day, you might find you’ve cut everything not necessary but still have a bloated final product.

In this scenario, remember that your slides aren’t the only media at your disposal.

Business presentations should almost always be accompanied by a handout of some sort. Whether this handout ends up at a half-page or several, it’s the perfect place to include data, sources, and other information clogging up your slides and notes.

Update Your Client Presentations for the Modern Era

Today’s freelancers rely heavily on technology of all kinds.

Not only are we using the internet and other software to complete our actual work, but more and more freelancers use the internet to locate and communicate with clients.

Does this mean remote businesses can forego the traditional client presentation altogether?

No. But it does change the way many of us will be giving presentations from this point forward.

Technical solutions for technical times

When distance stands between you and your audience, real-time presentation software is the next best thing to meeting in person. If you’re unsure where to get started, you can find conference or presentation modes in popular programs like Skype, Slack, and more.

Technical difficulties loom over every presentation, no matter the format.

While these issues might arise in the form of a dead remote battery or misaligned projector in a traditional office, it’s your responsibility to anticipate (and, subsequently, handle) tech issues that come up during your digital conference call.

Just keep one thing in mind:

Taking your presentation digital doesn’t change anything about our tips above. It only changes your delivery method.

With this in mind, be sure to give plenty of thought to things like how you will send out handouts and how your client will respond to questions.

Streamline your digital information sharing

Of course, your client presentations aren’t the only aspect of your business that could benefit from a digital upgrade.

If you’re still printing, sending, and filing away paper invoices, it’s time for a change.

For those who aren’t particularly tech-savvy, switching to software-based invoicing can seem like a headache. With a program like invoicely, though, creating and managing professional-looking estimates and invoices is super simple.

Learn more about using invoicely for estimates, invoicing, client payments, expense tracking, and other day-to-day bookkeeping tasks.