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Pitching: Make the meeting planner listen

Standing oration
Pitching: Make the meeting planner listen
By Kristian from Speakers Loft • Issue #18 • View online
There is no reason to beat around the bush: in this line of work we talk a lot. While mostly this is a good thing, there is one place in particular where less is so much more: pitching.
We asked pitch-expert, David Beckett, how to make bureaus, meeting planners and companies gravitate towards our messages.

Not surprisingly, it all starts with a precise pitch. For Beckett, it was a chance encounter with a new boss that got David Beckett attuned to the wonders of an accurate pitch. 
“It was 1992, and I had just joined Canon. My new boss, Lance Miller, says to me: ‘If they ask for a sheet of A4, give them a document. If they want a document, give them a presentation. And if they ask for a presentation, give them the best damn pitch they’ve ever seen!’
Lance had worked in advertising for 20 years and could present a mouse so that you would believe it was a well-groomed elephant. He taught me the attitude of presenting at a higher level than the audience ever expected – on paper and in person. 
I took it seriously and focused hard on my presentation skills. This became a massive asset in my 16-year corporate career because what I learned was; in a large company, people who can present well are over-rated and listened to. People who can’t present well are under-rated and listened to less.  
It’s a brutal reality. The impact of this single skill can have on the career and confidence of any professional.”
Great pitching is about focus. Photo by Alex Perez.
Great pitching is about focus. Photo by Alex Perez.
Show the pain
“Fast forward 21 years. I’m starting as a pitch-coach, and am sitting in the HQ of Startupbootcamp, an accelerator program for startups. Patrick De Zeeuw, a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Startupbootcamp, is reviewing one team’s pitch – and he’s not happy. 
‘Where’s the pain? Stick the fork in and twist it!’”
While De Zeeuw is not using those words, he is calling for the pitch to matter. There is nothing in the pitch to make him feel. He asks why he should care. Companies, meeting planner, and similar will come at you from the same angle - what are you solving for them?
Too often we squander the option to tell people why they need us. Take a look at speakers on Linkedin, and you will quickly find examples of a cardinal sin of pitching. When given a chance to explain their value (it is possible right under your profile picture on your profile page) way too many people write ‘professional speaker,’ ‘Tedx speaker’ or something similar. It should always be qualified with your topic or the pain you are solving. 
This is like putting a sign outside a café with an arrow and a text that simply says ‘building.’ No one does that. There is always a hook (and it is usually coffee). You should put a hook in your readers too.
An empty sign is no good. Photo by Kelly Sikkema.
An empty sign is no good. Photo by Kelly Sikkema.
Soaking in acid
When it comes right down to it, pitching is about “focusing on the right stuff, within a tight time limit.” You need to take your message for a swim in acid, and remove everything but non-essentials.
Beckett gives several handy tips for achieving this in his book Pitch To Win. Here’s our favorite three. If you want more, reach out to David.
1. Never start with the tools. Make a plan for what you want to say. When that is done, put it on slides, in a one-pager or on your website.
2. Never speak faster than 140 words per minute. There are tools you can download on your phone to check your speed. People will not be able to understand if you talk faster than this.
3. An example is worth a thousand words. Don’t tell the meeting planner you provide sales training (if that is your thing). Tell them that ‘Company X used my services to motivate their salespeople to perform 25% better than average after hearing my talk …’.
David Beckett is an international pitch coach, who has trained over 900 Startups to win over €225Million in investment and the author of the book Pitch To Win. His website is at
That’s all for now. I wish you tons of success in your business pursuits and remember that you have tons of speaker colleagues. Thanks to David for sharing his knowledge!
See you with a new edition in a week. Thank you for reading. Keep speaking.
SURVEY: The one-pager
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Kristian from Speakers Loft

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