The New ‘Five Parts of a Successful Business-Getting Pitch’

One of the things about 90% of us in business have on our to-do list is get out in the public and pitch our business, our products and/or our services. And probably for about 85% of us as owners, we don’t like to speak in public.

It doesn’t matter if we are an employee or owner, we all at one time or another have to make that ‘presentation’ to (gasp!) strangers for our employer or business.

Now you have to take this next item by faith, but it is true.

Although I would have probably given my left arm to do as well as my clients, I was a coach to some National Speakers Association members in my time. I was the guy behind the curtain or anonymous audience member gauging the actions of my clients and the audience reaction to their talk.

It was an added expense for those professional speakers to have me there, but it paid off for them. We were able to tweak a point, tweak or buttress a story behind a point, do different motions to a platform joke and other items.

Few of Us Get Paid To Speak, but There Are Things We Can Do To Mimic the Professional Presenters

Speakers should not be boring, but that is our expectation.

It is a sad state of affairs in business, but when our boss or events dictate that we go to a meeting, our first reaction is that the speaker will be boring.

The amazing thing is that many of these speakers that people put in the ‘boring’ column actually feel that either the information they have conveyed or their personal platform style is dynamic and note-worthy—if not dynamic.

It really doesn’t matter if you are presenting at a staff meeting or pitching your product or service, there are ways to be memorable—in a good way!

  1.  Try Ditching the PowerPoint Presentation or Cutting it Way Back To Allow the Audience to Focus on You and Your Message

Maybe I just uttered something sacrilegious in the world of business?

You do not have to do as many of the current or up and coming comedians do and memorize your presentation word for word, of course. But I can tell you from working with some of the very top tier of professional keynote speakers, that is what most of them do.


If you feel you must have a PowerPoint presentation, try cutting way back on the slides and lengthen your backdrop stories.

  1. Use Your Audience as a Prop

You know this technique makes for a more enjoyable presentation. Just think back to those times the speaker you were listening to asked what you thought was a rhetorical question, only to ask it again to elicit an actual response from one or more audience members.


Make people move around the room in possibly correlation with your slides…make 20% (or whatever number your slide has) move or stand or otherwise make more visible the percentage figure.


If you know your audience well, customize your presentation. That is what all good speakers do. Even if this is the first time in front of their group, a good speaker will explain to a meeting planner that part of their fee goes to researching his or her audience.


And good speakers do not skimp on research—even to the point of calling the president or other meeting luminaries to discuss their being the butt of a joke—or else finding the good sports in management.


Also do NOT assume that your audience, even if it is construction management or other blue-collar types, is cool with off-color jokes.


If you have written a book, maybe place hardcover editions under certain seats as door prizes. Or give some other attention-keeping prize that can personalize your speaking to the group.                       


  1. People Like a Speaker Who is Funny

Do not think that just because your topic is serious that there is no room for humor.  It is probably just the opposite.


Also, do not think that, you just cannot be funny as to your personality. When I worked with consultants, it was the case with some of them. How do I make actuarial work or extruded plastics funny anyway? But some amazing things can develop if you simply give yourself some room.


Maybe there is a video clip of something funny that can drive home a complicated point. YouTube is a treasure trove of non-copyrighted skits that you could use. It just comes back to knowing your audience.


  1. Use Music or Maybe Even a Local Group to Put a Point Across


Sure, it isn’t normal, but props on stage—even people props—can help otherwise shy speakers come out. (There could be the next Zig Ziglar inside them just begging to come out!)


Maybe borrowing a kitten or a puppy locally—or cute picture of same—will make the audience remember you. Try to give your audience something they do not expect from you. If you are a rough and tumble type, maybe a clip of a classical pianist can make a point or vice versa.


Skits are great, too. Sometimes you can incorporate people in your skit who your audience knows well to make a point. That’s part of your research, too. You are not asking people to make a fool of themselves on stage (as it probably going through their mind).  You are asking them to help you make a point that will help the group.


  1. Use Video Wisely—or Not at All


One of the things I had to learn, and it took me more than a decade to learn it, was do not try to be someone I am not…to just be myself. When others ask my style, especially if they are football fans, I tell them that I graduated from the John Madden (former ‘rumpled’ coach of the Oakland Raiders) school of public speaking. Ha! That way they sort of know what to expect or not to expect from an old has-been linebacker!

When you use video, you, just as a comedian, must think of timing. Timing in a video clip must be at the mercy the audio visual crew. Do you want to chance it that they will be in sync with your presentation?

Your Research Must Include Brainstorming

And brainstorming must include others. It really doesn’t matter if those ‘others’ are paid advisors or friends who will genuinely help you. The key is to find other people who want your success and who will be upfront with you to hold you accountable to what you want to be.

Do you have your presentation ready?



About Steve Lanning

Steve Lanning is a nationally recognized entrepreneur who has been creating his own paycheck since 1975 and loves to help others do likewise. As the founder of both the National Association of Business Coaches (sold in 2002) and the Consultants National Resource Center (for all marketers of professional services), he and his family have lived in three of the four states in our Quad State region. His passion is to see individuals and small businesses, start-ups to mature, discover and promote their strengths in building revenue streams individually, that, collectively, make for a strong region as reported on and celebrated by the Quad State Business Journal. He can be contacted at

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