The Pitch – how to be brief, be bright and be gone

“The Pitch” has gained increased recognition recently as Lord Sugar’s Apprentices are required to pitch their ideas in a way that ensures theirs stand out from the crowd!

So, what is a Pitch? Do you have one? Does it get your message across effectively and efficiently? Why have one anyway?

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Whether we realise it or not, we’re often called upon to Pitch – to put across an idea influentially and succinctly. This may be during a formal presentation to a client, a brief meeting with your manager or a snapped opportunity in the corridor. So, the purpose of a Pitch is to get others to make a decision to act, and follow up, on your ideas.

When people make decisions, they do so on the basis of moving away from pain and towards pleasure. Think of the last decision you made: what problem did you want to solve (pain) and what need did you want to meet (pleasure)?

To be influential, our pitches need to work with this fundamental psychology of decision making in mind, as well as being succinct. Our audience often only has a short attention span!

Effective Pitching involves a simple, 6 step, process.

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1. Interest getter

First, grab your audience’s interest; say something that will cause the other person to sit up and pay attention. Are you going to cut costs, increase profits, improve customer service, for example?

2. Current Situation

Next, describe the current situation, e.g. costs are rising by £x, profits are falling by £y or we are receiving z number of customer complaints.

3. Impact on Other Person (Pain)

Now highlight how the current situation impacts upon what is important to the other person; what could cause them pain. For example, they won’t achieve their budget or their team’s motivation is being badly affected.

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You have now created a ‘Burning Platform’ – the other person knows they have a problem and will be looking for a way out. Which is when you…

4. Share your Solution

Share your suggested solution and a way forward. They are likely to be most receptive now as they are at the pain stage!

5. Benefits

Highlight three benefits of the solution which will help them to achieve the pleasure rather than pain!

People often ask “why three benefits”? The answer is that triplets are more persuasive and memorable. There are many examples of triplets (Ready/steady/go; ABC; I came/I saw/I conquered). Public speakers frequently weave triplets into their speeches, especially towards the end where they encourage a standing ovation. Your audience will now be hooked and committed to your offer of pleasure, your solution! All you need to do now is finish:

6. Next steps

Outline the next steps; the actions that will move things forward.
I used this 6 step structure recently when I made a pitch to a client:

“I have an idea that will improve your company’s processes and culture.

The current proposal includes an event for general managers and production managers but not designers and sales people who are also a key part of the end to end process.

The risk with the current proposal is that an agreement will be reached that does not have the buy-in of all stakeholders and that may lead to a sub-optimal solution and/or resistance to implementation.

I suggest that we organise an event that includes all key stakeholders together. I have an idea that will do the job perfectly.

The benefits will be that all stakeholders’ ideas will be heard; all stakeholders will be more committed to the next steps and the solution will help towards building the team.

What I suggest we do is invite the designers and sales people to the event, as well as the general managers and production managers, and use mixed decision making groups on the day”.

So, next time you need to pitch, prepare and use this six step process, building in a triplet to further engage the other person.

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I hope this blog has helped you to see how you can be brief, be bright and be gone (yes, another triplet) when pitching; just what you need when you have a short time to get your idea across influentially and succinctly.

What ideas do you have for successful pitching? Let us know by leaving your comments in the box below.

Next month look out for The OK Corral – our attitude towards our self and others.

Posted by Mark Procter

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