Oral presentations, i.e., evaluated face-to-face meetings, are required in some RFPs.
The purpose of an oral proposal is to deliver the Why Your Company message in a compliant, high-scoring oral presentation.
Presentation requirements vary widely in structure, participants, content, and magnitude. In these “formal” meetings, the SEB is evaluating the material and presenters for source selection (as opposed to non-evaluated face-to-face interaction such as negotiations). These face-to-face meetings can be grouped into two basic categories:
- Prepared presentations
Oral presentation development and coaching are specialized skills. Typically, a section lead is assigned to oversee the development of presentation material. However, much more is needed to produce a first-rate oral proposal — presentation and Q&A coaching, team building, and group rehearsal. Your company may frequently contract with outside professionals to facilitate and lead these activities. The oral proposal process runs parallel to the written proposal process. The Proposal Manager is charged with ensuring the written and oral proposals are integrated and are presenting consistent Why Your Company messages. The oral team is assigned modules and attends morning meetings. The oral slides are presented in the color reviews and included in the publishing steps.
Oral communications with SEBs include “one-way” presentations such as:
- Summarizing the written proposal
- Presenting technical and management proposals
- Presenting sample task/scenario solutions
- Describing the qualifications and experience of key personnel
- Describing corporate experience
Often in some procurements nearly the entire proposal is “submitted” orally. In these types of oral presentations, the evaluators do not interact with the presenters — it is intended to be a one-way communication from offeror to customer. Typically, the customer requires that presentation materials, usually overhead slides, be submitted prior to the presentation.
Interrogatories (Questions and Answers)
Oral presentation requirements may also include interrogatory-type interaction. The customer solicits information during the meeting from the offeror — inquiries to which the presenters must respond in real-time. These interrogatory sessions include:
- Answering questions about the written submittal
- Solving a sample task
- Engaging in key personnel interviews
The RFP usually contains an oral presentation agenda and specific requirements to the offeror. So, even the interrogatory-type meetings are not meant to act as pop quizzes, but as a scheduled test of our presenters’ ability to work together and think on their feet.
Oral Proposal Process
Figure 2-7 depicts a general process flow for oral presentation development. In practice, the process should be customized to best address the RFP requirements and implement the proposal strategy. Note that the process for developing oral presentation material is similar to developing proposal material through submittal of the written proposal. The main difference is that the oral presentation slides are, in essence, annotated mock-ups. Moreover, many RFP’s require the presentation slides be submitted with the written material. This enables the oral presentation slide development to occur concurrent with the work package and mock-up steps. The summary Proposal Process Flow Diagram, Figure 1-2, depicts how oral proposals integrate into the overall proposal process.
Similarities with written material notwithstanding, oral proposal preparation needs specialized process steps and leadership to include:
- Converting the compliance outline and RFP agenda requirements into a presentation plan
- Developing overhead templates
- Coaching and practicing presentation — group and individual
- Coaching and practicing interrogatory response — group and individual
- Presenting to a mock orals board for critique of the presentation
– Melanie Baker & Mike Lisagor