Agency Post

The One Thing You’re Overlooking When Prepping For Your Next Pitch

Published on June 13th, 2016

Read the article by our president and chief strategy officer, Marcus Fischer, on Agency Post here.

It’s a statement said casually without much consideration. We leave a new business pitch or a first client meeting and throw it out as a final goodbye. It’s the period at the end of a sentence.

It’s nice to meet you.

But, is it true?
Was it really nice to meet your agency team? You’ve worked hard on the presentation material. The content of the presentation has been proofed, rehearsed, edited, edited again, and edited again to perfection. But, what about you? What about your presence? Not what you said, but how you said it.

Your non-verbal communication says as much about you as the content you worked so hard on. If you’re not coming off as engaging, neither is your content. Marketing is a client service business. Yes, we’re in the idea business, but if we can’t sell those ideas all the work is purely academic. Yes, we might be able to say, “we did it our way.” But, in the end, the client didn’t buy it. Marketing is a sales business. In short, we have to put on a great show.

The Room Is Yours
When you walk into the presentation room, the only remaining variable left is you and how you give your presentation. Everything else is either set or out of your control. You can’t change the presentation anymore. Client politics are out of your control. The energy you bring will either feed or starve both the room and your team.

The more daring and bold the idea is that you’re trying to sell, the more bold, confident, and excited your presentation needs to be. If you’re asking someone to take a risk, they need to believe you’re 100% committed to the idea. If you waver, if you show doubt, if you show pause, then you’ve given them a reason to say “no.”

Even When It’s an Uphill Battle
Is every meeting a good one? No.

Is every new business pitch a win? No. But you should present like it is.

In those situations when the cards are stacked against you, how you present is your best chance of winning the day. Changing someone’s mind in a meeting is a hard thing to do. How you present and the energy you bring is your best chance to persuade a room to your point of view. Best case scenario, you change their mind. Worst case scenario, you make it really, really hard for them to say “no.”

Don’t Contradict Yourself
If your body language and energy is flat, you’re doomed before you start.

If you say something such as “We’re really excited to be here” or “This is the most interesting part,” but your facial expressions and body language don’t match up, it will be hard to the client to believe what you are saying. And you need their trust to win the business.

All this is not to suggest that your body language and presentation style should be overly animated and cartoonish. Your approach should match the room, the content, and the message you want to convey. You should match your presentation topic. If it is serious, be earnest. If the content is emotional, be sincere. If it is funny, laugh — a lot.

The Myth of the 7% Rule
In the 1960s, UCLA professor Albert Mehrabian conducted a study on the impact of words presented versus non-verbal cues. The conclusion from the research was that only 7% of communication is verbal. The other 93% of communication is body language and voice.

The study has many detractors. And, looking at the methodology, rightfully so. However, what can’t be denied is the importance of non-verbal communication. The point to make here is that when verbal and non-verbal communication are in support of each other your communication will be more clear, persuasive, and engaging. When that happens, it really will have been “nice to meet you.”

Marcus Fischer President
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