There’s an Art to Pitching Business? Presentation Skills You Need to Know

For many of us, presenting in front of large groups can be a daunting task. Just think back to your school days – you dreaded getting up in front of the class to present your book report or science project. All you could think about at that time was “I can’t wait until I’m an adult and I don’t have to give presentations again!”

However, little did we know that for many of us presentation skills could make or break you in business.

Just ask Peter Coughter, the president of Coughter & Company, which consults with leading advertising agencies around the world. Coughter is also the author of the well-known book, The Art of The Pitch: Persuasion and Presentation Skills That Win Business, which offers advertising and marketing professionals the tools and tips to develop and give great presentations that deliver business and grow as a professional.

In his book, Coughter asserts that simply having the best work or the best ideas is not enough to win business. You must show the audience, or potential client, that you want their business and are willing to do what it takes to win it. In order to do that, Coughter offers a few tips on the art of pitching and developing a great presentation:

  1. Know Your Audience: It is easy to talk to people you know, right? So, get to know your audience before the pitch. In the time before you presentation, spend as much time as you can understanding your audience both as a whole and as individuals. What kind of people are they? What are their demographics and cultures? Where are they on the issue or topic you’ll be discussing? What are their expectations? You should even go as far as finding out about their personal lives. What are their hobbies? Where did they go to school? Are the sports fans?
  2. Have a Conversation: The mortal sin of presenting is talking at your audience and boring them. You must make your presentation conversational and get the audience involved. When you do this, your audience will feel less like they are being lectured and be more likely to remember what you said.
  3. Make It Personal: Great presenters are not afraid to introduce a level of intimacy as most people make decisions emotionally. If you share a personal story, the audience is able to relate to you on a higher level and it helps you build credibility and make lasting connections.
  4. Work as a Team: Teamwork really does make the dream work. When a team doesn’t like one another or get along, a client or potential client will sense it immediately. Even if the team’s presentation is perfect and they offer great ideas, the only thing the audience will take away from it is, “If the team can’t get along, how will they successfully work on our business?” And, you won’t win the business.
  5. Rehearse: It is paramount that you rehearse your entire presentation out loud and that you know your material – not just your part, but also everyone’s. If you do so, the presentation will feel natural and even give the appearance of spontaneity to the audience. In addition, the chances of surprises arising on the day of the presentation will decrease significantly.
  6. Be Yourself: The most important thing to remember is to be yourself, be human and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. In fact, Coughter asserts that the most amazing presenters acknowledge their mistakes and attract the audience by being so honest, vulnerable and authentic. If you’re not, the audience will immediately recognize it and they won’t believe that your ideas or advice are genuine. Ultimately, you’ll end up losing the business because of it.

From winning business and bringing in revenue, to creating great relationships, a great presentation can open many doors for you as a professional or firm in public relations, marketing and advertising. A bad one can also close many doors. So make sure your next presentation is perfect by remembering the art of a pitch.


By Maggie Markert, Senior Strategist