A lot rides on an oral proposal.

Contracts — large contracts — can be won or lost in the hour or two that your technical experts are speaking.

An oral proposal is too important to leave to technical experts who understand the scope of the technical solution but who don’t know how to talk about it in a way that sells it to the customer.

Also, by the time your people have submitted a written proposal in response to an RFP, they are often exhausted. They need the help of an orals coach to make the best use of their time and energy.

Depending on your team’s needs and resources, Chris Witt, an orals coach based in San Diego, will lead them through any or every phase of a six-step process for planning and delivering a winning oral proposal:

Step One: Strategy

  • Review the RFP
  • Understand the customer and the contract
  • Identify the team’s win strategy and win themes
  • Scope out the competition
  • Create a preparation schedule
  • Identify the key presenters and support resources

Step 2: Message Formation

  • Turn the win strategy and win themes into a persuasive message
  • Create a storyboard
  • Assign time and slide allotments for each section
  • Clarify the goal of each section and of each slide
  • Identify the main issues and the subject matter experts responsible for developing content

Step 3: Slide Creation

  • Design and produce PowerPoint™ slides and other visual aids that are clear and customer-centric

Step 4: Q&A Practice

  • Surface and develop answers to problematic questions the customer may ask
  • Learn how to respond to questions in a formal setting
  • Practice answering questions in front of a real audience

Step 5: Rehearsal

  • Rehearse individuals and the team as a whole in progressively more final form
  • Do a dress rehearsal in front of a red team
  • Learn from the red team’s critique and incorporate the changes in a final rehearsal
  • Get psyched up to present

Step 6: After-Action Review

  • Meet after the presentation to review how it went
  • Make notes for future reference about details of the presentation and lessons learned
  • Celebrate

“Chris Witt took a bunch of engineering geeks preparing an oral presentation and made us ready for prime time.”

-Spense Bauer, SAIC


Chris Witt, orals coach, has worked on over 275 oral proposals, coaching teams bidding on contracts worth anywhere from 25 million to 1.5 billion dollars. He has coached teams as small as two presenters from a single company and as large as nine presenters – with three times as many support people – from seven companies.

He has worked with Accenture, AT&T, Calnet, Cubic, Epsilon Systems Solutions, Federal Data Solutions, Forward Slope, GE Energy, IBM, Johnson Controls, KOAM Engineering, Kratos, Mountain Top Technology, Northrop Grumman, SAIC, Serco, SYS Technologies, TASC, Unitech, and VPSI.

During the process, Chris wears many hats, depending on the needs and resources of each particular team:

  • As a consultant, he leads oral proposal teams through a step-by-step process that helps them understand what the customer wants and how best to deliver it.
  • As an orals coach, he develops presenter’s self-confidence and skills.
  • As an orals proposal manager, he coordinates multiple professionals who often have different agendas, all the time keeping the team on schedule.
  • As a cat herder, he keeps strong-willed, independent introverts focused on achieving a common goal.

“Because of Chris Witt’s training, I’m able to deliver professional briefings — to three- and four-star generals, Members of Congress, and leaders of foreign armed forces — in a manner that not only gets my message across but also keeps the listener’s attention. Despite my confidence now, I always work with Chris prior to any significant presentation. The investment returns remarkable dividends.”

-Matt McCarthy, Program Manager, Fort Lewis Mission Support Training Facility

Individuals learn how to present their material clearly, confidently, and in a way that best addresses the customer’s concerns. And although they may have never met or worked together before, they become a cohesive team.

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See also How to Plan an Oral Proposal.

For more information about orals coaching, contact us.