So you got the meeting. A prospective client has invited you to pitch your best ideas. You’ve spent long days and nights, for weeks on end, putting together your best advertising examples so as to show the client all the great things you can do. And now the big day is here. Your presentation deck is beautiful. You’ve rehearsed what you want to say. As they say in Hollywood: “Action!”
According to Peter Coughter’s bestselling book, The art of the pitch: Persuasion and presentation skills that win business, the pitch is where some people shine and still others fall flat. Whether you become the former or the latter on your big day depends on whether you follow a few simple principles.
Successful pitches are interactive
Coughter writes that a pitch is “a conversation, only you’re doing most of the talking.” In other words, a pitch is not a lecture. The client does not want you to stand in front of her and drone on with a litany of your accomplishments and talents. Rather, she wants you to talk with her, not at her.
We know, we know. “Authenticity” has become such a buzzword that it’s now just a piece of jargon. And no one likes jargon. But what authenticity means in the context of a presentation is that the more you seem and sound like an actual human being, the better. Too often in pitches, the presenter tries so hard to appear “professional” that he comes across as too slick and too polished. So resist the urge to be professional and, instead, just be human.
People connect to stories
People don’t respond well to presentations in which the presenter expounds on how creative her advertising examples are and everything she knows about the business. What they respond to are stories. So make your presentation a narrative with an attention-grabbing opening, an engaging middle, and a powerful ending.
The pitch is where business is won or lost, so it’s critically important that your pitch come across as natural. After all, you’re asking the client to hire you, the person, not your advertising examples.