The old adage that “people buy from people” really is true. It’s rarely about your technical competence. That’s not in doubt – you got through the first filter with your tender submission. Now you need to concentrate on being human, authentic, likeable and on making an emotional connection with the pitch panel.
What are the three core elements to fantastic pitch delivery and how can you make that all important emotional connection?
You absolutely must exude energy, passion and enthusiasm – for each other, for your firm, for the services you’re offering to provide and for getting to do the work if you win the pitch. When I work with partners in a pitch team, just occasionally someone needs to be told to hold back a bit, but I’d say that about 99 times out of 100 I need to tell them to up the energy.
Pitch panels are regularly bored to death by pitch teams whose members take it in turn to read to them from a PowerPoint presentation up on a screen. Boring. Mad. You need to be flexible and sound fresh and unscripted. The only way you’ll achieve that is by being incredibly well prepared. Only then will you have the confidence to adapt your presentation on the day and to choose your exact words at the point of delivery. If you can nail the (apparently) spontaneous delivery then the pitch panel will import you with all sorts of skills that you may or may not have. Essentially they’ll think you’re dead clever!
For predominately logical left-brain thinkers like most lawyers this can be hard, but you absolutely must try to find ways to be creative in your delivery – all in an attempt to make that emotional connection with the pitch panel and be appropriately memorable. In terms of your content there’s loads you can do: personalise the talk by making it personal both to you and to the panel; tell stories; give something away about yourself to show that you really are human; use metaphor and analogy to help explain dry, boring technical subjects to non technically minded panel members; paint images with words; find some good, relevant quotations from great orators; and look for opportunities for appropriate, light use of humour.
There’s one final incredibly simple thing you can do to help achieve the emotional connection. Smile! It’s amazing how many lawyers look utterly miserable and unconvincing while telling members of a pitch panel that they’d be really excited and happy to win the pitch and get awarded the work.
Oh and if you think you couldn’t possibly use these techniques in your big, important business pitches then get on the web and have a squint at Britain’s 2005 pitch to the IOC – the one that won London the Olympic games for 2012 – and watch the last six or seven minutes by Seb Coe. Brilliant!
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about the author
Michael Fleming is our Head of KWC Legal. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop him an email and we will be in touch.