Todd Martin

Todd Martin

Sales Strategy

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Perfecting Your Pitch: 6 Tips for Preparing Presentations

September 18, 2014

Even if you’re great at delivering them, the proof is in the prep.

Presentations often get a bad rap.

Todd Martin 071713 image 3For presenters, they are a source of anxiety and dread. For the audience, the threat of boredom looms large. Still, they’re an essential part of doing business. Presentations are how we tell our stories.

Effective presentations get past the hazards and present your message in a way that gets results. Before you make your next pitch, here are six proven ways to ensure that you get the most from your efforts.

  • Get an early start – Whether you have just days or months to prepare, start working on your presentation early. Waiting until the last minute is a recipe for frustration. Adequate planning ensures success and helps minimize last minute jitters. The more time you spend preparing, the more effective you’ll be.
  • Do the research – You know your idea, product, or service, so research your audience carefully. Know the people who will be in your audience, anticipate their pain points, and decide how you can help. The more you know about the people who will hear your pitch, the easier it will be to plan the presentation.
  • Outline carefully – Create a topic outline for your pitch that hits the main points you need to make. Your slides should be based on these major points. Make the audience’s needs the first topic, followed by how your ideas, products or services solve the problem. Keep the outline and slide list short and stay on topic.
  • Prepare slides first – Create your slides based on the outline. Keep slides visually interesting and avoid overusing text. If your audience is reading the text on your slides, they won’t hear you. Aim for instant recognition of what your slides convey with bold charts, headlines, and graphics.
  • Punch up your story – With slides prepared, you can create a concise, audience-focused story for your pitch. Don’t ramble; shorter is better. Use audience-appropriate humor sparingly. Stick to the point of the current slide and sell with clear language. Edit your presentation down to the essentials.
  • Rehearse and back yourself up – Never go into a presentation cold. Bring team members in and make the presentation. Get honest feedback and questions. Fine-tune your pitch based on these rehearsals. Anticipate questions and be able to answer them immediately. Back up everything for quick access, just in case.

Relax! You’ve Got This Down
A well-prepared presentation almost delivers itself. Set up for it early and make sure everything works. By the time you stand up, you’ll know the content intimately. You’ve planned it, rehearsed it, edited it, and have it backed up on a USB drive in your pocket. Just take a deep breath, smile and display the first slide. Next time will be even easier.

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Hey Todd, great article. I’d like to suggest that you are not describing a ‘pitch’ though, but rather a customized presentation to your prospect’s business challenges or areas of ‘pain’. A “pitch’ is when you don’t know these pain points and just try to throw enough ‘stuff’ against the wall hoping something sticks. You do yourself a discredit describing your well-thought out and relevant presentation to uncovered business challenges as just a ‘pitch’. The only place a pitch truly belongs is in baseball.. or perhaps if you’re Jerry Seinfeld and pitching a ‘show about nothing” to NBC.. : ))

Jill Konrath has an excellent e-book entitled “Ditch the Pitch” I could send to you for your interest, it’s really very good!

Denise

September 18, 2014