A touch of the ridiculous

Most pitches and presentations can be judged under three headings. Firstly, those that are little more than a one -way proclamation and re-gurgitation of a document, typically chart or PowerPoint heavy on supporting facts and track record. These are “information transmissions”. Few succeed.

Then we have the “professional communications” covering a majority of pitches, where a few key messages deemed important to the audience are coherently and clearly articulated. Unless they are up against the final group, many will succeed.

The final ones, the ideal, are those that make “emotional connections“. These are pitches built around the understanding that people (including prospects) might conclude rationally but they act emotionally. And an emotional response  to a pitch calls for performance! As Paul Arden, in his world-best-selling-book, said when you pitch “you are putting on a show”. 


While performance in a pitch may not reach the rarified level of the concert musician there are some valuable lessons. The musician makes a clearer distinction between the practice and the performance.  The former is naturally essential. Through rigorous practice they  set out to know the piece so well that they have no need to think during performance since “too much conscious thought during performance impedes the ability to perform”.

Put another way “it does not allow surrender to the moment” or to “letting go”. It does not give them, as one talented musician told me, the opportunity to be “a touch ridiculous”.  These are characteristics that move playing from the technically competent to the performance that commands emotion.

In the business pitch it is “too much thinking about the content” that undermines the performance. Where there has been a cut-off called on content change and where serious rehearsal has taken place, normally average presenters can deliver, letting-go, and relish  showing -off. They  become performers. It’s not so ridiculous.