a man in a spotlight making his presentation for partnership

Part of your firm’s partnership admission process in your journey to make partner will probably involve a presentation of your business case and personal case for partnership to a selection of partners. These partners are typically some of the most influential in the partnership. Nerve-wracking stuff! This blog post will give you ten tips to help you ace your presentation for partnership (and any others you need to do!). *This blog is an excerpt from chapter 12 of the 3rd edition of Poised for Partnership. This chapter focuses on the Partnership Admissions Process including what’s involved, how to ace it, and what to do if you’re successful or unsuccessful in the vote.  Download the full chapter for free here.

1. Keep your cool

yoga poseEasier said than done – particularly if partnership is riding on this presentation. Nerves can sometimes be good, but can also lead to you drying up, sweating excessively, going red, stumbling over words or even becoming breathless. A couple of deep and long breathes before you start your presentation always helps. If at any point you feel the nerves getting the better of you, stop, take a sip of water and some deep breathes, then carry on.

2. Envisage the worse case scenarios

Think of what could go wrong in this presentation. Projector break down? Have you got a couple of paper copies of your slides? Drying up? Use cue cards. Running over time? Go to the conclusion or ask whether you can have more time.

To really ace your presentation for partnership, don’t miss our other blog: Top Partner Panel Interview Tips!

3. Practice, practice, practice

a crumpled piece of paper to represent practicing your presentation for partnershipAs the phrase goes, practice makes perfect. Who can you persuade to be your audience and give you real feedback? Can you record yourself using your iPhone? When you play it back, what do you notice? What could you improve on? Send a copy of your recording of you running through the presentation to your coach. They will be able to give you insightful feedback as to how you can improve. Practice the first and last 3 minutes of your pitch aloud at least ten times. This will ‘fix’ the words in your head, so that however nervous you may be, you deliver the most important parts of your presentation well. Ideally, you will do the final dress rehearsal of your presentation 1-2 weeks before your Partner Panel Interview. Then, on the morning of the Partner Panel Interview, you will have a quick run-through. Being this rehearsed is one of the best ways to minimise your nerves when presenting.

4. Plan how long you will take

You will probably have been given a guide as to how long your presentation needs to be. This is normally between 10 and 20 minutes. When you do your presentation on the day, your nerves may make you talk faster so that you get through it quicker, so bear this in mind. When you video yourself doing it before the day, time how long it takes. If it’s too long, what can you chop out? Make sure you haven’t left anything out with our Partner Panel Checklist! Download it for free here.

5. Visit the room where you will do the presentation

Do visit the place where you will present before you actually present. Can you take the opportunity to actually practice in the room? Will there be lots of people in the room, and where will they sit? Now think about lines of sight and where you need to stand so you can be easily seen and heard.

6. Anticipate questions

a man with a magnifying glassYou can expect to have a question and answer session at the end. This is a chance for you to really engage your audience in your business and personal case for partnership. Do spend some time thinking of the questions you will get asked – and these may be the classic difficult interview questions:  

  • why should we promote you to partner over some of the other candidates?
  • if we could only promote one partner this year, why should it be you?
  • or alternatively, if we could only promote one partner this year, why should it NOT be you?
  • which weaknesses in the partnership will you strengthen by being promoted to partner?
  • what will cause you to fail as a partner?
  • what would your team say your greatest weakness is?

Remember that your partners in the Q&A are not looking for you to repeat what you said, but want to hear the logic or problem-solving process you used to come to your conclusion. If the partners still don’t like your argument then check to see whether you have been misunderstood and if necessary, clarify. Don’t argue for argument’s sake – even if you are a lawyer – but if you are not convincing the partners, then agree to disagree. Now is not the time to score cheap points…

7. Get your mentor’s advice

Your mentor may even be on the panel you are presenting too. Ask them for tips on what you should say and do in your presentation for partnership. Ask them to help you rehearse your presentation and ask them to give you feedback.

8. Work out if any partner particularly bothers you

Let’s be honest, some partners can make anyone feel uncomfortable. If you know that your nemesis is going to be on the panel, take some time to work out what it is that bothers you about them. How could you normalise this reaction? Could you reframe how you react to them? At the end of the day, aim to not take anything from the partner that bothers you personally – they are there to do a job on behalf of the partnership – and may have been asked to play bad cop. **Top tip: Remember that your partners are just doing their due diligence It can be really easy to personalise the questions you are being asked in your interview, so try not to. Avoid any doubt by reminding yourself that no one is trying to trip you up or wants to see you fail. Your partners have a job to do in the interview. They are there to do their due diligence on behalf of the whole partnership to see if your Business Case is worth backing. And remember, their reputation is at stake if they fail to ask a very relevant question too.

9. Get to know more of the partners BEFORE the presentation

two people having coffeeGetting to partner is as much about how many advocates you have in the partnership as it is about your business case. Before the presentation spend time with partners in and out of your department, and get their thoughts on your business and personal case. Ask them what you should highlight in your presentation and what skills they think you bring that the partnership needs.

10. Identify the main points of your business case for partnership

Remember that you are there to engage your partners with your business plan. It doesn’t matter whether you are in a law firm, accountancy firm or consultancy – your job is to convince your partners that it is worth them placing a bet on you and your business case. With this in mind, take the time to analyse the main selling points of your business case for partnership. If you only had a minute to ‘sell’ your business case to your partners, what stuff would you keep in or take out? Don’t leave it to chance! Ace your presentation for partnership with our Partner Panel Checklist. Download it for free here.

Knock your presentation for partnership out of the park

As nerve-wracking as such an important presentation is, if you prepare well and use these 10 tips, you will ace it. Just remember to write a killer presentation, practice as much as possible, and get feedback from your mentor before the big day. Then all you have you have to do is keep cool and crush it.

Don’t forget to download the full chapter of the 3rd edition of Poised for Partnership. This chapter will help you think, feel and act like a partner to strengthen your Personal Case for Partnership. Download the full chapter for free here.


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