Today I Will Be An Expert In….

I was training a multi-national company (yes in their European HQ – just saying….) in the art of pitching for business, and presentation techniques. You know, those things that people fear more than Death, according to unchallenged research. Unchallenged because it gives me an opening slide with real impact. My clients wanted to know how to win more business. Putting aside the fact that this is an outrageous example of mission creep for a media trainer, I concocted an answer. It is: think like a journalist. By which I don’t mean develop mastermind levels of brilliance in claiming expenses.  I mean, approach the task exactly how a journalist approaches the astonishing task of starting with scant knowledge, and achieving an article or broadcast package that makes sense and takes the audience forward in some way. How do we do it? We start by thinking of the audience. What are their pre-occupations, fears, ambitions? What do they already think? How can we show them that our report is important to them? Then we look at what’s happening. Why is it unusual? What impact will it have on the audience? What do they need to know to form an opinion? And most importantly what language will they understand? It’s never the language of jargon.  So, in the training room, I asked one participant (a salesman) to become a client. To think like a client. And I asked their sales colleague to pitch to them. The results were a real eye-opener. The ‘client’ suddenly said “I felt bombarded by a barrage of information. I couldn’t get a word in edgeways! There was no connection with the person pitching. I wanted to tell them what I had in my mind, but they were too interested in telling me what they’d rehearsed.” They learned quickly to do their research and show the client that they understood them perhaps more than the client understood themselves. There’s nothing like surprising a client with some information about them they didn’t think you knew. It makes you the expert.

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