Tag Archives: business pitch


This is the 150th  anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, arguably the most important speech in American history. It is rightly eulogised and numerous writers have examined and extolled its many virtues. One of these is Sam Leith in his entertaining book on rhetoric, “YOU TALKIN’ TO ME?”

gettysburg 2Many of Abraham Lincoln’s skills are not easily acquired or applied in the average business pitch apart from two, both highly practical.

The first is to keep it short.

Lincoln spoke for a little over two minutes, his speech 272 words.

In 1863 people expected lengthy speeches. The speaker, Edward Everett, who preceded him spoke for over two hours .Lincoln defied the protocol of the day, he wanted to make an impact and his words to be listened to. Being brief was a strategy.

Most business pitches if the prospect has allocated, say, 40 minutes take 40 (or probably over-run) minutes, cramming in as much content as they can.  Few take a strategic decision to pitch in half the time, to be more explosive, more surprising and more rewarding for the audience.

Few heed  Shakespeare: “Where words are scarce, they are seldom in vain.” (Richard II )

gETTYSBURG 3The other practical lesson was the trouble he took to check out the venue, for this two minute ‘pitch’.

“The care with which he was thinking in advance is evidenced by the fact that a few days before, he asked the man who landscaped the cemetery to bring him the plans, so he could familiarise himself with the layout of where he’d be speaking.” (Sam Leith)




“There is no such thing as perfection” said Steve Hansen, coach of the All Blacks, the ‘best sports team in the world’. “But that doesn’t mean you stop striving for it.”

steve hansenIn an interview in the Guardian he went on to say: “Our aim as a group of players, coaches and managers, right down to our baggage man, is just to want to be better than we were the week before.”

These deceptively simple words capture what most might aspire to in their own work related performances and they should be the aim in pitching. Continue reading


This was the headline on Sunday in the Observer’s This Week’s Question with Tom Lamont and Viv Goskop going ‘head to head’. It started, like so many articles on this subject, by referencing a poll that revealed people feared public speaking more than they feared being buried alive. They did not quote the source of this finding now seemingly an absolute truth so often is it repeated.

unhappyaudience  Among scores of nervous presenters I have worked with there was not one who would rather die than speak. However the frequent repetition may have added to what are their perfectly understandable fears.

As Viv Gosakop, not fearful, and a comedian who runs workshops- How to do Stand-Up and Never Be Afraid of Anything Ever Again (Within Reason, Does Not Include Shark Attacks)- says “The thing is the more you practise the less the fear gets in the way. People who speak confidently in public are not without fear.They just do it with the fear and with plenty of respect for it- because it’s normal and natural.”

Tom Lamont, fearful, said “What’s cruel about public speaking, and why it weighs on so many, is that it tends to be forced on you  (work, weddings, birthdays). Worse it tends to be booked way in advance……a speech looms…it creeps closer, nerves piling on nerves…..scarier than Brian Blessed.”

So, use the time to practise!  One tip. Rehears, (performing, not just reading your speech) to a friend. Doing this will reduce nerves on the day. And as you rehearse, practise the pauses most of all. They will make you appear confident. They will make you feel more confident. Try some deep breathing as well, pausing! Inhale-pause-exhale-pause….

Read more on pausing,  https://www.pitchwisdom.com/2011/11/pitches-happen-in-the-pause/ and more on fear,  Handling the BIG speech nerves.



The Observer today had this headline to an article on its Comment page, “When government propaganda is disguised as fact.” It argued that propaganda is a damaging and divisive tool, referencing  the currrent ‘health tourism’ dispute.

Last week an official government report announced that the NHS is spending up to £2bn on foreign visitor and short-term migrants with Jeremy Hunt saying we couldn’t afford “an international heath service” with fewer than 50% of ‘chargeable’ foreign nationals. Continue reading