Three Practical Tips to Make Your Pitches More Effective

Over the years I have coached many speakers and presenters. Some people simply need to put more work into refining the structure and the logic of their presentation, while others just need more practice. But there are also a few practical tips that can bring a very fast improvement to many pitches and presentations.

USE A CLICKER. Standing next to a laptop and pressing keys or giving instructions to another person are both distracting. They are distracting to the audience and they also distract the speaker from her message. Go buy a clicker -- a presentation remote -- and make sure you always have it with you. They are not expensive and they last years. In fact if you present often you should really have two in case one breaks or -- more likely -- you leave the receiver in a computer somewhere and forget it. With the clicker in your hand you can walk about the stage, you can stand in front of the key people in the audience, you can gesture and you can point. You can also switch to the next image on precisely the beat where the change has most impact. Try it sometime. A pitch with a clicker always beats any other style.

PLACE A MONITOR SCREEN IN FRONT OF YOU. Turning round to look at the screen is distracting and looks unprofessional. You can avoid this completely if you place your laptop or an extra monitor screen between you and the audience. Ideally you know your material so well you need this only to check that the clicker worked and see which slide is on the screen. But if you have forgotten the contents you should be able to read it without ever having to look away from the audience. In most rooms you can place your laptop on a table or chair in front of you, but at events consider asking the organizer to place a monitor on the front of the stage.

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A PLAN B. What happens if your presentation or demo don't work? Don't waste time trying to make it work. Allow yourself a certain time and if it doesn't work after that time then switch to plan B. What is plan B? This could be a handful of smartphones with demos that you can hand around. It could be a talk-only pitch with no slides. It could be a words and flipchart pitch. Whatever it is make sure that you have prepared. One sure way to impress people is to deal with the unexpected smoothly and professionally. Never let a technical fault stop you making your pitch.

These three practical tips can turn a fairly ordinary pitch into something much more impressive and professional. But remember also to practice until you can do the pitch without hesitation and without going over the agreed time.

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about speaking, presenting and influencing skills and other communication topics contact Andrew Hennigan at, through the website or by phone on 0046 730 894 475.


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