Delivering a flawless presentation can be downright daunting! Whether in-person or virtually, the rules of the game remain the same.
I recently had a conversation with Jen Mueller, Seahawks Sideline Reporter and Founder of Talk Sporty to Me, who has mastered the art of connecting and engaging through powerful conversations. I’m including a few of her camera-ready insights to help you score more often.
Step 1: Game Prep and Practice
Like a coaching staff, prep for the next big game begins immediately. You got the meeting likely because you had a relationship, were introduced, or did your homework and made a compelling case that landed the meeting. If you haven’t already, begin by creating your “I know” statements.
Start with this centering thought: the purpose of this meeting is to learn. You are curious and seek to understand. Yes, grasshopper, this meeting is not about you. It’s about them (I promise that is my only 70’s TV show reference for the rest of the article).
The statement “I customize sponsorships to meet your objectives and want to learn what they are” is most definitely an overused term. But here’s the thing, this is not a consistent practice and it’s often not done well. To truly legitimize making this statement, you need to begin by asking the right questions. This occurs when you prepare in a meaningful way. Here are a few questions to consider:
- What are 5 key things I know about the company?
- What do I want to accomplish at this meeting?
- What does the person I’m meeting with care about?
- How will I stay on track and on time?
- What are the essential items I want to share about myself and my property?
Pro Tip: Schedule one hour at least one week before the meeting to prepare your agenda and questions. Once your preparation is complete, send a note to your contact sharing your thoughts on the meeting agenda and ask if there is anything specific they would like to discuss that would help you in your preparation.
Step 2: It’s Kick-off Time
As you begin the meeting, remember to bring your best camera-ready self forward. An example from Jen Mueller is to amp up your physical energy. Being on camera and talking to a remote audience is like carrying on a one-sided conversation. Exaggerate your enthusiasm to carry both sides of a conversation. It might feel awkward at first, but without it you run the risk of coming across as disinterested or unenthusiastic without it.
When you kick off the meeting, you are setting the tone for the conversation. In the beginning, you should do introductions around the table, provide a brief meeting outline, review what you want to accomplish, and confirm the expectations for the meeting are clear.
Pro Tip: Casually review the flow of the meeting to get agreement and make the attendees comfortable. Here’s an example: “I’d like to begin by asking you a few questions to understand your audience better, what’s important to you, and then share a little about our event; perhaps we can brainstorm a few ideas and talk about the next steps. Sound good? Is that what you were expecting from our time together today? “
Assuming this is your first meeting, let’s just get this on the table so you can wrap your head around it: you are not going to close a deal today. Remember, you are at this meeting to learn. Your goals are clear:
- Learn 5 key facts that that will help you develop a customized idea
- Make a connection with the decision maker
- Leave with an indication of interest or excitement
- Leave with an assignment to develop an idea or solution
- Have clear next steps
Step 3: The 1st Half
The most important job you have at this meeting is to ask intelligent, relevant questions. For most of this meeting, the sponsor should be talking. Keep this in mind: 60%-70% of the meeting the sponsor should be talking. When you leave the meeting there should be no doubt who did most of the talking.
Ask questions to learn and understand. Yes, you want to know the objectives, target audience, challenges and plans for the future. But there is a way to ask these questions to elicit a less programed response, so you get more than standard answers.
Pro Tip: Prepare questions for each meeting based on what you have learned from your research. Ask questions in a way that demonstrates your knowledge and experience. Don’t ask questions that are generic, or where the answers can be easily found. Don’t waste someone’s time with a “tell me about the company” kind of question.
A few idea starters from a recent meeting:
- What opportunities has the new leadership/ownership created for you?
- How are the various brands/departments working together to achieve the company’s key strategies?
- In talking with (grocery store), I understand healthy snack sales are up 9% ? Is that your experience?
- How is your target consumer profile changing?
- How have the product lines grown? My favorite is the “X.” Do you plan to introduce new products in the next few years? Is there a new trend in snack foods? How have the product lines grown?
Step 4: Half-time Show
Now it’s your time to shine! You are on stage, and like a half-time show, you have minutes, not hours. By now, you have learned a few things about the person and the company, and you can structure your story about your event or property to touch on what is most relevant and exciting to them.
Begin by asking what they know, what has their experience been? What information is most important to them? I ask “permission” to walk through the document I brought – I never assume they want to see my PowerPoint.
Make sure you are framing your event or property in a way that will pique their interest and plant early seeds of the potential opportunity to partner with you. But remember, you are not selling, merely telling your story that builds a framework for a potential partnership.
Pro tip: Remember to make intentional pauses. Stop yourself from talking too much by adding pacing mechanisms to your presentations. That includes intentional pauses, full stops for audience engagement and varying the tempo at which you deliver the content. Pacing mechanisms allow your audience to catch up and process what you’re saying.
Step 5: 2 Minute Warning
It’s time to wrap it up, clarify the following steps and timeline, and schedule the next meeting. Most people fail to recap the key points of the meeting, or agree on specific next steps and when they will happen. This is the best time to schedule another meeting: immediately.
How the meeting wraps up is a glimpse into what they are thinking. If they are interested, you will know! Look for cues that will help you determine the best way to follow up.
Ready to dive deeper?
Attend an upcoming Sponsorship Mastery Masterclass! We’ll be tackling topics like unique activations, valuing sponsorship, creating a culture of sponsorship and so much more. Master the art and science of sponsorship today! Learn more and register.
About the Author
Paula Beadle is the CEO of Caravel Marketing, a national consulting company specializing in sponsorship marketing, and the founder of Sponsorship Mastery, an annual summit and programming dedicated to improving individual and organizational sponsorship performance. She is a results-driven trailblazer with a proven record of developing smart strategies and creatively connecting the right partners. Paula has helped iconic events and major brands achieve their goals through innovative sponsorship initiatives, generating incremental revenue and successfully coaching thriving teams, executives and boards.