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How to present your business at a shortlisting tender session

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If you’re feeling unsure about all things tenders, it might be worth considering some tender training or an online course.

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Kristine Daw is the Managing Director of Dawtek, a Melbourne-based company specialising in tenders and proposals, tender training, copywriting, editing and creating business templates. Kristine and her small team have a range of clients including small businesses, multi-national corporations, all levels of government and not-for-profits.

1300 DAWTEK or dawtek.com.au

Think about the last job interview you went to (even if it was a very long time ago now)… chances are, you remember the sweaty palms, your mind racing about the questions you might be asked and that one question that just wouldn’t go away: what if it all goes horribly wrong?

It may sound silly but that’s exactly how being shortlisted for a tender presentation may feel to a business owner who isn’t experienced with what the process entails. Like anything in life, it is often a case of practice makes perfect but if you do find yourself in this position, the first thing you need to do is acknowledge your business’ success in putting forward a quality submission. As for presenting your business at the actual shortlisting session, here are four tips that’ll give you a great head start.

Address the client’s requirements

Nerves can make us do strange things. We’re all guilty of rambling when we’re feeling a little outside our comfort zone or if we legitimately don’t know the answer to a question. Of course, you need to do your homework beforehand – review your submission and the criteria outlined so that you’ve prepared as best you can. Once you’re in the tender presentation, listen very carefully to the questions being asked and answer accordingly. If you don’t know something, it’s best to be upfront as opposed to bending the truth or promising something your business may not be able to deliver.

Structure your presentation to meet the requirements

Again, go back to the criteria outlined and use this as the base of your presentation. If you’re given a time limit, do everything within your power to stick to it. Going five minutes or so over time isn’t likely to be a deal breaker but if you’re running 20 minutes over time, know that isn’t going to work in your favour. Don’t try to do everything alone – involve any appropriate key stakeholders in helping to structure your presentation and ensure you’re working alongside people who are confident enough to give you honest and constructive feedback.

Demonstrate the benefits of your submission

You may completely understand all of the benefits of your offer but the people you’re presenting to, won’t necessarily. Avoid using jargon terms and keep your languaging simple and your messaging straight to the point. Think very carefully about the problem at play and how your offer is clearly putting forward a solution and how that may look different to your competitors.


I know, it’s not much fun to go over the same presentation again and again. The reality is, the world’s best public speakers don’t just wake up and magically have a 20 minute presentation that is ready to go and is out of this world fantastic. As you gain more experience and deliver more presentations, you’re likely to grow in confidence and you might not need to rehearse as much. In the beginning, the more you can hone in on your messaging and build that confidence within yourself to present, the better. If you can get in front of a small crowd of people to practice, that’s even better – don’t forget to ask them for their feedback (this question is important: do you actually understand what I am saying during my presentation?).

Making the shortlist for a tender presentation is incredibly exciting but it can also be quite a daunting experience. Unfortunately, I can’t magically wave a wand to ensure your presentation skills are on-point but the above areas are good guides. Remember: if you don’t feel fantastic after your first ever tender presentation, don’t beat yourself up. It’s something most people experience at some point and you’ve gained valuable experience for your next presentation.

If you’d like expert guidance on putting together your tender presentation, contact me so that we can discuss your unique needs. Don’t forget that you can connect with our community via our closed Facebook group and tender hub.