Always Be Prepared to Engage

Always Be Prepared to Engage 

After participating in a 3-week long professional study, I was asked to be a part of a recent client’s presentation. 

Since I was newly acquainted with the organization, my Operations Manager (OM) thought that it would be beneficial for me to become accustomed to the presentation process.   This would leave me better prepared to manage the project if we closed on a contract. 

Our entourage consisted of myself and five professionals.  At the time, I was the newest member of the group.  Being at the very end on the chain of command, I wasn’t expected to speak up or contribute much to the presentation.  

As our VP began the presentation, he occasionally called on our PHD resident, as well as my OM, to elaborate on certain areas. For the most part, he covered the majority of the slides and answered the bulk of the questions.   

Though the presentation played out as well as expected, this was far from a signed deal.  The client and his staff had several tough questions and at no point in time did we feel as though we were a definite hire. You could feel the hesitation and tension in the room, but we proceeded with confidence in knowing what we had to offer.  

After roughly two hours of addressing all the questions and presenting all the facts, the presentation was officially coming to a close.  Just then, the client shared one last observation: “I don’t mean to put anyone on the spot here, but I’ve heard from everyone except for the guy that is actually going to do the work and deliver the promises you are making.”  I knew exactly who he was referring to.  He unwaveringly looked directly at me and asked me about my experience.   He wanted to know exactly what made me believe that I could deliver the results he was expecting. 

Was I caught off guard?  Most certainly.  Did I let it deter me from a chance to speak?  Absolutely not.   I managed to answer his questions and satisfy his curiosity. Having consulted for over 14 years and leading many presentations myself, I was comfortable reassuring him that we were the firm that would bring his organization to great success. 

The point of this story is that you are never just a body in any meeting.  Your presence alone represents your credence to your company and its capabilities.  My advice to novice consultants is even if you are expected to silently show your support (safety in numbers is real), be prepared to verbally parade your knowledge, defend your proposal, and get involved in the conversation when given the chance.  As a result, you will go beyond simply looking confident; you will prove that you are a confident professional.  

Our clients trust us to transform their companies so that they may reach a level of success that is otherwise difficult to achieve.  They expect to collaborate with the best in the business regardless of age, education, gender, or years of experience working for a particular organization.  These qualities can become minor details when coupled with confidence, prepared readiness, strong work ethics, and a dedication to success. 

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