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Pitching

Avoid these 5 common pitch presentation mistakes.

Tight timelines and multiple stakeholders make a good pitch presentation tough. Unless you have a seasoned pitch leader, it’s easy to make mistakes. Below are some of the most common issues to watch out for when pulling together your presentation.

1. Lack of clear structure

Structure is key to a good presentation. Whilst people forget the finer points of what you have to say, they remember the big signposts along the way. If you’re interested in the reasons why, you can read more on primacy and recency bias.

If you take time to establish a clear structure, you audience is much more likely to understand and remember your key points. Taking the following approach can help you build your presentation thinking about structure form the start:

  • Start your pitch process by defining the structure of your presentation and present it back to your team for review.
  • Include some notes to flesh out the main points, but don’t put in too much work till you’ve got a good idea on the structure. Again, review with your team as you run through the narrative.
  • Follow the “summary, explanation, review” approach. This is where you tell people what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.

Keeping a clear structure will make the whole process easier, especially in the critical late stages.

2. Too much information

It’s tempting to put as much information as you can into a pitch to show expertise. This is a trap. Studies show most people can only hold around seven pieces of information in their short term memory. Giving your audience too much detail makes it hard to retain in thier short term memory and subsequently commit to long term memory.

To get around this, your aim should be to prove up to seven key points. Ideally fewer. Make your point, then prove it through the required evidence, before finally reiterating your point. In doing so you “chunk” key pieces of information.

3. Not getting to the point

Businesses often start presentations by talking about themselves. Who the team are, how long they’ve been in business, some of their big clients.

At best you will bore your prospect. At worst you will tell them something that makes your business seem like the wrong fit for them.

A better way is to start by providing a clear explanation of the prospects’ challenges and build curiosity for the presentation ahead by posing questions. Doing this shows you have a good understanding of the clients’ needs and will better hold their attention.

4. Lack of proof

Presentations often include a detailed explanation of solutions. But all too often they lack proof the solutions will work. If a proposal requires clients to invest significant amounts of time or money then proof becomes important.

Evidence can come in 3 forms.

  1. Your own case studies
  2. competitor examples
  3. third party case studies (For example, using a Facebook or Google case study).

5. Unclear actions.

Pitches have one ultimate purpose. To get your audience to take action. Often though, businesses fail to make it clear how an engagement will work and how to get started. This failure to make first steps clear results in lack of acton by prospects.

To make actions clear, there are a few things you can include:

  • Prospect specific action plans
  • Performance forecasts or outcome guarentees
  • Roadmaps and timelines
  • Next steps in the sales process

By including these basics you address key questions prospects are likely to have. You also make clear the expectations for the next stage of the process. Of course, this doesn’t guarantee the outcome, but it does give you a better chance of getting there.

 

Whilst not rocket science, by checking off these issues, you can avoid common mistakes and lift your pitch quality considerably.