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Use Cues to Polish as you Pitch

I was recently hired to pitch the services of one of my clients to about 20 prospects. The pitching was done through a presentation that I wrote, given in a conference room. The prospects were often two or more senior people from big, international companies.

I was a high-pressure kind of thing.

I prepared for this as I normally do, writing, rewriting and generally polishing my presentation deck until I felt it was really strong and conveyed the message I wanted to give. I went in feeling like my presentation was a good as it could be.

And it was. I got a few nice compliments. But that didn’t stop me from continuing to polish my pitch between presentations. In fact, I adjusted my deck after every meeting. So no two prospects ever got the same presentation.

Why the constant changes?

Well, first of all, I’m an obsessive tweaker. I tweak everything from my client work to my LinkedIn profile to my website… weekly, sometimes daily. I always find a better—more persuasive—way to say something.

Often, I just go with my gut when I tweak. But when I’m giving a presentation, I use my own reaction to my performance and audience’s reaction to my performance to make my adjustments. For example:

  • Me: Does this slide feel long? Shorten it.

  • Audience: Do people keep asking me to explain that point? Clarify it.

  • Me: Do I keep fumbling that second bullet? Reword it.

  • Audience: Do people look confused when I say that statistic? Find a better one.

  • Me: Do I feel uncomfortable when I make this case? Choose another.

  • Audience: Do people seem to tune out during the pitch? Cut the boring stuff.

  • Me: Do I feel like I’m really making an impact on a certain point? Expand it.

No matter how hard you work, you will never know exactly the best way to convey information to a prospect. But your prospect will give you the answers if you’re observant. And so will you.

Listen. Watch. Feel.

Then tweak.

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