How to pitch a powerful presentation

A powerful presentation is the most critical tool in communication and business today.

When you communicate clearly articulated messages, you:

  • win multi-million-dollar projects
  • secure buy-in from your team or organisation on your new vision
  • raise much-needed funds for your start-up, project or idea
  • build awareness about life-saving projects
  • inspire change that has the power to move communities
  • communicate new ideas that have the power to spread across the world.

The issue is that when under pressure you can get stuck in ‘Pitch Haze’ – the panicked state experienced during the submission phase of a project.

Teams that are working hard and fast to respond to a deadline are the ones most at risk of Pitch Haze, especially if you are working on a major pitch that will significantly affect your bottom line – talk about intense!

When you have the opportunity for business growth, a new partnership or a dream client, it’s exciting but nerves can become the better of us, not to mention all the late nights. It can be a terrifying task of guesswork that chews up time away from billable hours.

So how do you avoid being struck down with a nasty case of Pitch Haze?

Here are five powerful presentation techniques to help you.

  1. Turn ‘me’ into ‘we

Teams often pitch “Why they are awesome” rather than, “Why the client is awesome with them (you) … together”. Don’t spend time talking about how big you are, how long you have been around or how many clients you have cut to the chase real quick. Explain your point of view, what’s at stake for them if they do or don’t get your help. Explain how ‘we’ are going to work together to solve the problem.

  1. Identify your difference

Once you have highlighted the problem, you need to work out why you are the right person to solve it. What makes you unique?

Your client will hear numerous pitches, from numerous people, so it’s imperative you package your solution distinctively and differently. Show your human side, your passion, and why you believe in what you do. People buy from people they like. Research into neuroscience proves that we purchase and buy based on emotion, not logic. We buy-in based on how we feel about something – and that includes someone.

  1. Share the insights not the data

Numbers, stats and facts add credibility to your arguments, but it’s important not to drown out your main message with this stuff, which can be very dense and hard to understand.

Be clear on how whatever numbers you are showing are relevant to your audience. For any other information that doesn’t support the main message, supply a follow-up document.

If you usually use graphs and charts in your presentations, try using a few key infographics and visuals, like photos, instead. The aim is to support what you are saying rather than just repeat it.

  1. Cut the cr@p

Whether it’s a PowerPoint presentation or a PDF, nothing sends your audience to sleep faster than endless text and bullet points.

Replacing heavy text with images and illustrations that support what you are saying will instantly attract attention, create emotional impact and engage your audience.

Ultimately, your client wants to partner with a company that’s innovative, provides creative solutions and adds value. A creative and well-thought-out presentation conveys this directly to your audience.

  1. Don’t apologise

When you start your presentation don’t kick off with an apology. Nothing annoys an audience more than a speaker who starts with ‘Sorry, I’m not very good at this. I’m really nervous …’

If you have rehearsed well (which, of course, you will have!) and not tried to memorise your presentation you will be fine.

Use slides as prompts with visuals to support what you are saying and embrace any quirky traits you have – be authentic, passionate and remember to have fun.

Emma Bannister

Emma is an award winning expert and knows everything you will ever need to know when it comes to designing and creating presentations that work. Growing up in a small town north of London, the ‘big smoke’ was never far from view. Emma designed presentations for banks that traded in high standards and fast deadlines. Their expectations ignited her ambition, leading her to bigger and bluer skies. Emma arrived in Australia in 2002. Knowing intelligent visuals packed a powerful punch; Emma took her passion for presentations one step further, launching Presentation Studio from her kitchen table in 2006. As the CEO Emma is no longer a “designer”; instead her creative skills are applied to visualising business ideas and plans for the company’s future.

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