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 this presentation (and any others you need to do!)

1. Keep your cool

Easier 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.

3. Practice, practice, practice

As 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.

4. Plan how long you will take

You will probably have been given a guide as to how long your presentation needs to be. When you do your presentation for real your nerves may make you talk faster – and you get through quicker. When you video yourself time how long it takes. If it’s too long, what can you chop out?

Click here to download your free essential Partner Panel Checklist (email required) to make sure you absolutely ready for your Partner Panel Interview.

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

You 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?
  • if we could only promote one partner this year, why should it NOT be you?
  • what 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. 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.

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

Getting 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. If you only had a minute to ‘sell’ your business case to your partners, what stuff would you keep in or take out?

Click here to download your free essential Partner Panel Checklist (email required) to make sure you absolutely ready for your Partner Panel Interview.