It was American humorist Will Rogers, or it might have been Oscar Wilde, who is credited with the line “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” Whoever said it first, and lets face it both had a way with words, had an innate understanding of the initial impact that is critical to the successful pitch.
One of the toughest of pitches any of us face is the job interview .It may not seem fair, but no matter how brilliant the CV, the decision can rest purely on the gut reaction of the interviewer in the first few minutes or even seconds of the first face to face meeting.
The same holds true in pitching for business. The encounter may be an informal ,one to one , discussion, a chemistry meeting, a procurement inquisition or a full blown presentation. Whichever, the way you start , the first few minutes, will shape for better or worse the audience response and the confidence and ease of the pitching team.
There are no set rules. You can open with drama, anecdote, question, challenge, topical comment , anything which engages and surprises. However unless you are one of the rare Tim Bells of this world, who instinctively read and relate to their audience, you will need to think about and plan how to start!
There are many stories of great openings. Let’s have them…