Brad Blankenship: Getting Ready for the Dance

Brad Blankenship

Spring is here, and high school seniors everywhere are excited about finding dates to prom. You remember what that’s like: vying for the attention of Mr. or Miss Popularity? Little did we know that “strutting” to impress our peers could continue for the rest of our professional careers.

When clients engage a project management team, they expect the group to interview architects and contractors on their behalf to find the best team, value, and cultural fit for their project. Those of us in the business affectionately call it the “dog and pony show.”  If your firm is fortunate enough to be frequently invited to these “dances,” you’ve undoubtedly experienced the highs, lows, successes, failures, and sometimes embarrassing mishaps that come with them.

In my 18 years at Jones Lang LaSalle, I have had the distinct pleasure—and agony—of conducting many of these design and architectural interviews. Here are some tips for making the best impression:

• Everyone on your team should contribute; a silent team member speaks volumes about your firm.

• Get plenty of rest prior to the pitch. (Yes, I’ve seen team members nod off.)

• Principals and business development folks should facilitate, not dominate a presentation.

• Every team member needs to bring five minutes of passion to the interview. If they can’t show what gets them excited about their work, they should stay home.

• Like an athlete, hydrate before you compete, lest you spill your water or coffee on the client’s board room table or your materials. (Yes, I’ve seen it happen.)

• PowerPoint decks should be limited to 10 slides; multiple forms of media are easier on the eyes.

• Don’t bring your concealed handgun to the pitch. (Yes, after full disclosure, the team was promptly escorted off the property by security.)

It’s also critically important to know what the customer’s hot buttons are before entering the room. We welcome calls from architects and contractors who seek to learn about key issues to a particular client. It is amazing how often those questions are never asked!

The end game of course is to be finalist or win it all at the interview. Research, preparation, and letting the client see the real you is essential to winning. Who knows, maybe your firm could be crowned the next prom king!

Brad Blankenship is managing director of project and development services for Jones Lang LaSalle. Contact him at [email protected]


  • Love the analogy and stories. Perhaps this is the start of a book of presentation Do’s and Don’ts for our next generation of presenters in the industry:)