Crafting Meaningful Content When the Client Does Not Provide Guidelines

Some clients include in their shortlist notification letter a list of questions that they want you to address in your prepared presentation.  Others just establish time parameters for the interview.

When that is the case, interview teams often struggle with how best to construct their interview content for optimal impact.

When you find yourself in that position, there are a couple of approaches that I have found to be very effective.

Whichever format below makes the most sense, it is usually best to spend a few minutes building credibility and reminding the panel of why they invited you to interview in the first place.  So start with a brief company overview then introduce the team and what each team member brings to the project beyond their resume.  What attributes do they possess that will add value to the project?  After that, have a chart which shows team members’ experience together on comparable projects with similar elements.

For the rest of the time you have to preset, here are some options to organize the content:

Hot Button Format

Identify the client hot buttons that you have gathered prior to the RFP.  Then link those to unique features only your team can offer.  Explain the benefit and prove your ability to deliver that outcome through stories, examples or testimonials.  Once the rest of the presentation is constructed, you can plug those into the appropriate section.

Challenges and Solutions Format

List all of the challenges this project poses and provide a discussion of how you will address, mitigate, or solve them.

Lessons Learned Format

Because of the unique experiences the team brings, how can they leverage the lessons they have learned on similar, past projects to add value to this client on this project?

A word of caution when using this format: do not list the ways you messed up on a previous project.  You don’t want to talk about dealing with the unforeseen or errors.  We don’t want the client thinking you are incompetent.  Instead, focus on lessons learned that helped you optimize efficiency or refine processes to ensure a better outcome on future, similar projects. It is also a place where you can discuss heroics in how you overcame unforeseeable challenges.

Remember, unforeseen leads the selection panel to believe the challenge was something you should have caught.  Unforeseeable tells them that any other competent person would have not predicted it.


The following formula with keep content focused when using the challenges/solution or lessons learner formats:

Situation (what was the problem or challenge?)

Solution (how did you deal with it?)

Outcome (what was the result?)

Moral of the story (what does this tell the panel about you or your company?)

Whichever format you choose, make sure it resonates with what matters most to the client.