I had another enjoyable and productive session with a funding endeavour I’m helping in a new field yesterday. The main purpose was to rehearse the big 20-minute presentation pitch. We managed to get two ladies from accounts in to be a listening sanity check.
Two different presenters gave their own spins on the main task, using the same slides but different chat.
The first has given anywhere between 400-500 presentations, but doesn’t consider himself all that comfortable ‘selling’. The second isn’t used to formal presentations, but is often called upon to make a kind of impromptu speech in business settings.
After the two run-throughs, they both started to compare notes on what they should say, which I had to swiftly curtail. I turned to the two ladies and first asked them “how wowed are you by these opportunities?” There was an awkward pause. They both wanted to be positive, but their immediate reaction was telling. The beauty of this response though, was that it enabled the protagonists to get a feel for what the next evolution of their pitch must include in the way of compulsion and passion.
This point went down well, so I asked one more thing of the test audience, “name me two things you remember hearing and liking”. Between them they rattled off a trio of wonderful points. One was philanthropic, one financial and one relating to a major customer achievement. It was a terrific pointer as to what resonates with people and an unavoidable hint on what to expand on.
Every salesperson knows the importance of rehearsing a pitch, yet how many of us have either time or inclination to do it? What I liked a lot about this process was the input of the control-style audience. They had a vested interest for sure, but knew next to nothing about the details or plans. This not only made their feedback all the more powerful, but for me as a facilitator and adviser gave my message even more punch.
I’m sure there’s a couple of keen people in the equivalent of this accounts department near you that would be allowed to have a cup of coffee in a meeting room for half-an-hour to contribute to the cause.