I’ve been reading John Steel’s book Perfect Pitch: The Art of Selling Ideas and Winning New Business, published by Adweek Books. It’s one of the best business books I’ve read in the past couple of years.
Some people might think of it as a book for advertising professionals, because John comes from an agency background. But it’s really just a book for anyone who ever makes any kind of presentation — business or otherwise. This common-sense view of the art of presentations focuses on how every presentation is essentially a conversation. It doesn’t matter whether your audience consists of one person or a thousand. Whether you’re presenting an idea, proposal, or your potential as a great employee, you’ll benefit from this viewpoint.
Steel gives the example of a meeting with Steve Jobs of Apple Computer, contrasting a briefing by Steve with an earlier one by two senior Apple marketing executives. The account is humorous and insightful. After the two executives attempted to bore the agency team to death with a bad, rambling Powerpoint presentation, Steve used a marker pen on a whiteboard to give an unforgettable, highly focused presentation that cut to the heart of the problem. He was transparent, clear and passionate. This is the essence of a great presentation!
Think of every ad, every brochure, and every website you create as a presentation. Then take it further and think of them as part of a conversation you’re creating with potential customers. What are the questions they’re asking when they begin to engage with the content? What do they need to know? What are their dreams? What’s their vision? What does a successful outcome look like?
Imagine yourself face to face with each one of them. How would the conversation flow? How would you make the same pitch if sitting across from them in your local coffee shop?
Perfect Pitch is an excellent book and a worthwhile read for anyone, especially people who have to pitch new business. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. The heart of the message is to think of your presentation as a conversation.
Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (October 30, 2006)