Communications consultancies understand the importance of pitching, whether it be a story to a journalist or a presentation to a client or prospect.
We pride ourselves on creating memorable and engaging content and understand the art of storytelling. Why is it, then, that when we create presentation decks to support our pitch we break every rule in the book?
- Tell a story from problem to solution.
- Provide clear navigation and signposts.
- Keep it clear and simple.
Bring your story to life
PowerPoint is a powerful tool – providing you are the master and it remains the servant.
Too often the pitch solution is written into that format. But it’s a presentation support tool, not a document format. So sentences, paragraphs and detail that really belong only in a Word document or some other format are included.
Time and time again I see agency pitch decks that have their logo in one corner and the client logo in the other. That’s in addition to the graphs, words and images that are supposed to bring the story to life. Add in a coloured background and there’s an awful lot going on – but not necessarily saying anything.
The pitch day arrives, the team sets up, hits ‘Slide Show’ and then proceeds to help the prospect read words from a screen.
That’s not a pitch – that’s an insult.
People fiddle too much with PowerPoint. They spend too long adding bits because they can, which gets in the way of spending valuable time on presenting a compelling case to the prospect.
Clients need to have confidence in an agency’s ability to solve their problems. They want to trust your insights and strategic solutions. The bits on your PowerPoint don’t help that.
One of the reasons that pitch teams obsess over slide details and don’t spend enough time preparing to make their case is because they run out of time.
As an industry we are pretty well versed in detailed plans and timetables that count down to major events, press trips, CEO roadshows and VIP factory tours, to name a few.
Yet when it comes to the pitch process, there is rarely a timetable, often a lack of clarity about deadlines and certainly insufficient time dedicated to rehearsals.
So, once again, a clear and valuable skill that we have isn’t brought to bear on the most important of activities – the pitch.
It’s time that agencies started to behave according to their own advice and understanding of best practice.
So, next time you pitch: make a plan, draft a timetable, observe the countdown with rigour and make it happen.
Stop fiddling with that PowerPoint deck and start planning a compelling case. You might just see some positive results.
Alison Clarke is a business consultant and mentor @pitchwitch
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