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.
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, long breaths before you start your presentation always helps. If you feel the nerves getting the better of you, stop, take a sip of water and some deep breaths, 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
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. Practice your pitch’s first and last 3 minutes 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, you will have a quick run-through on the morning of the Partner Panel Interview. 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 for 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. (Our Checklist is just one of the many things in our Progress To Partner membership site which will help you make partner)
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 actually to practice in the room? Will many people be in the room, and where will they sit? Now think about lines of sight and where you must stand to 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?
- 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…
One of the most sought-after courses in our subscriber-only site Progress to Partner is called “How to Build a Cast-Iron Business Case for Partner”. We think it’s a must-have in your arsenal of tools and guidance to help with your career progression. There is also a section on the Partnership Admissions process with guides and recordings to help you navigate the system. Check it out!
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.
Your mentor will be able to help you think about answers to difficult questions about your Business and Personal Case for Partnership. A good way to find out where you may be weak with your Business or Personal Case for Partnership is to take our FREE Partnership Readiness Assessment. This assessment will show you how ready you are for partnership! Over 1000 people, many from Big 4 firms, have already taken the assessment. The assessment will show you how you measure up against the 12 key indicators and identify where you need to work to be a stronger candidate.
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 will be on the panel, take some time to work out what 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 not to 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.
Personalising the questions you are being asked in your interview can be really easy, 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 for 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
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 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. (Our Checklist is just one of the many things in our Progress To Partner membership site which will help you make partner)
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.
What’s in Progress To Partner which will help you with your Partnership Panel Interview?
Progress to Partner is our membership site that will give your the knowledge AND confidence to fly through this final step up to partner.
It’s like a Netflix for your career in the professions. Find what you need to watch or read at the time you need it. Within the site you’ll find over 150+ courses, videos, checklists, templates and plans to help you progress your career to partner. Amongst the many curated resources (no more unnecessary scrolling or searching) you’ll find:
- On-demand courses on how to create and articulate your business case, including our most downloaded course “How to Build a Cast-Iron Business Case for Partner”
- A section on the Partnership Admissions process with guides and recordings to help you find your way through the process with your sanity intact.
- Recordings and checklists on how to ace your partner panel interview
- On-demand courses on how to win the right sort of clients
- Proven advice on how to still do the day job and find the time to get through the Partner Track process