An exhibition at the Morgan Library in New York, Churchill: The Power of Words, celebrates his extraordinary oratory and way with words. It sounds fascinating. The New York Times in its review commented, “England might well have fallen had not Churchill been a master of words” and referrenced a quote from Edward R Murrow, “Churchill mobilised the English language and sent it into battle.”
Admittedly it is a bit of a stretch from the Battle of Britain to the business pitch but it seems to me that the majority of pitches neglect one of the more effective weapons in their armoury, words!
Typically the weapons will include a good technical solution, clearly expressed content, a strong core proposition and well rehearsed performances. These constitute the entry level. Superior firepower is the emotional connection of an original idea, relevant theatre, something that makes for memorability.
All pitches are tough and few lack in effort. Too often however so much time is spent on arriving at the content that no time is left to craft words that are compelling, emotive, distinctive and, above all, memorable. Pitch teams may not include poets or lyricists or copywriters but that is poor excuse for not spending time on better language. Churchill spent one hour crafting each 60 seconds of a speech.
Probably the greatest pitch of the last ten years was that of the London 2005 bid team. (London 2012. A triumph of emotion ) In making the emotional connection with the voting IOC members it used every weapon in the armoury but arguably it was words that won the day. Coe captured their hearts by saying “To make an athlete takes millions of children around the world inspired to choose sport”. This was London’s promise to the IOC.
Today those memorable words are translated into the bold promise of London 2012 to “inspire a generation”. Who knows these words just could mobilise and send us into battle to increase participation.