This pitchcoach article was written for www.gorkanapr.com, the site that links PR professionals and journalists. It’s their editor’s headline, which I both like and endorse!
In any pitch it is wise to assume that your competitor’s solution is as good as yours and that their people are as talented. The difference can be down to your performance on the day. This is why investing time on rehearsals, several of them, is essential.
In rehearsal, involve an ‘outside’ viewpoint since it’s what the audience takes out, not what you put in, that will count. Look for differentiation in the way you say it in these areas.
A powerful attention-getter opening.
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression” (Will Rogers).
Assume the decision is based on first few minutes, and it might be. Your opener should capture immediate interest with wit and surprise, not the unsurprising introductions, agenda and rehash of the brief. They come later.
Pitch an experience.
Put yourself in the shoes of the prospect receiving, say, four successive presentations all using slick PowerPoint, enthusiastically delivered. Efficient, yes. Differentiating, no.
Aim to engage in a memorable way by staging a relevant experience. Without major theatrics, you can create an interesting environment, encourage participation, surprise with imaginative display, sample product, etc, etc. Imagination is all.
Easy to follow.
Don’t assume intense concentration from your audience, particularly at the end of the day. Is your presentation really easy to follow? Does it clearly relate to the brief?
A good test is this. If you can’t summarise your presentation clearly in three minutes, without visual aids, then the chances are you do not have a workable structure.
People buy people.
The best content pitch in the world won’t win if prospect is not happy with the people. Are they a genuine team? Are they my kind of people and since this varies by individual, keep reviewing ‘casting and chemistry’.
Good rehearsal will reinforce the people dimension, sense of teamwork, infectious enthusiasm, crackling energy. Rehearsing makes nice people nicer and increases their confidence.
There are two areas of insight. The first and, more obvious, is one that allows you to demonstrate you really, deeply, understand what makes the client’s consumers tick. Evidence of original thinking will score well.
More important can be insight gained into the client and their decision process. Why are they reviewing, who is the real decision taker, what are the underlying issues, what’s in it for them? Keep on listening!
Often the least rehearsed part, it is the final chance to make a lasting impression. Tell them what you’ve told them as if it was the only basis for evaluation.
The close. No props. No charts. No videos. Just the team leader, heartfelt and personal. It’s not what you say. It’s the way you say it.