The Art of the Pitch: Persuasion and Presentation Skills that Win Business Hardcover – Jan 3 2012
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Praise for Peter's Seminar Presentation Skills Workshops:
'Peter has been a tremendous asset in coaching our guys on every aspect of Presentation. He's helped build up their experience, and most importantly, their confidence.' - Tony Granger, Global Chief Creative Officer, Y&R
'We have had over 100 of our senior and mid-level people go through Coughter's workshops. The results have been impressive. Rarely do we now prepare for a presentation without someone saying, 'Have we Coughter'd it?' That is the best endorsement of all in terms of the impact he has had with our company.' - Peter G. Krivkovich, President & CEO, Cramer-Krasselt
'Peter is a teacher, leader and a Zen master.' -John Adams, Chairman The Martin Agency
About the Author
Peter Coughter is a Professor at the prestigious VCU Brandcenter at Virginia Commonwealth University and President of Coughter & Company whichconsults with leading advertising agencies around the world.His clients include: Crispin Porter + Bogusky, DDB, Cramer-Krasselt, Dentsu, GSD&M, Goodby Silverstein, JWT, Leo Burnett, Publicis, Y&R McKinney and many others. Peter was a Founder and President of Siddall, Matus & Coughter, one of the Southeast’s most respected agencies. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.
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According to the author, the elements of an effective presentation include:
* It's a conversation, only you're doing most of the talking.
* Be yourself: what audiences want is authenticity.
* Tell stories: we all love stories that grab our attention and hold it all the way to the end.
* Know your stuff: don't memorize the presentation, but know the underlying ideas thoroughly.
* Relax and be personable: it's the audience that really counts, so don't worry about yourself.
* Teamwork counts: in great presentations, teams present as if they really like one another.
* Make it personal: a level of intimacy builds credibility and makes a connection.
The book is written from the perspective of an advertising agency executive, but the principles described are applicable to the marketing of any professional services, or more broadly to any form of public speaking or private presentation. In accordance with his own advice, the author provides numerous engaging stories of business won through persuasive presentations, and the book includes brief insights from a number of experienced presenters.
Many of the key points are reinforced by being repeated several times in the book. There is detailed advice on how to organize a presentation, how to use PowerPoint-type slides if they are suitable for your type of presentation, the importance of extensive rehearsal, and the effective use of silence, volume, pitch, tone of voice, facial expressions and other forms of "punctuation". Anyone who wants to become a better presenter is likely to find some useful tips in this book.
This book has some useful anecdotes, but boy, there is a bad signal to noise ratio unless you are very casually reading this and have time on your hands (and no other books awaiting your attention!). The description does imply this is from an ad agencies point of view, but it also says that the book is applicable to selling anything- I am not sure it can go that far. I found some good pointers in here, but they could have been summed up a lot quicker. The stories are applicable to an ad agency, but don't speak to elevator pitches, entrepreneurs at trade shows, or any type of off-the-cuff selling that is more typical in the real world.
Finally, I found it particularly tacky that I read the same line in the front of the book as I did in sections following it. It was like the introduction was a copy and paste job from the other sections! If you give a lot of powerpoint presentations, give it a whirl, otherwise just go read Dale Carnegie again and again and again.
I was humbled. I realized that though I may know the basics and can put together a pretty decent presentation, throughout this book, one message came through loud and clear: simplicity in both your message and slides. It was extremely helpful that he illustrated his points by using real life examples. Great examples, by the way. This is invaluable reference book; one that you will want right to keep next to your computer.
I highly recommend this book for both the veteran speechwriter, as well as individuals looking to develop their first presentation, and for everyone else in between. Just go and read it!
Some thoughts on the book:
Much of his advice is surprisingly simple. But, for some reason, almost no one does the things recommended in this book.
The anecdotes from Advertising/Marketing professionals that are scattered within the book are interesting. It's especially fun to hear about the presentations that went wrong.
Coughter isn't contrarian just to be contrarian, but he does disagree with conventional wisdom sometimes. He also isn't afraid to admit that some presenting cliches are spot on.
The book's not theory. It's all practical solutions based on real life experience. That's what makes it so valuable.
Coughter does offer the same best practice concepts as the other presentation experts, but he does it so uniquely that it is as if you are learning about them for the first time. His book embodies exactly what he preaches...present in such a way that it appears you offer something superior even if your idea is the same as your colleague. He provides a great example of an agency who had two teams present the same solution to a client but one team's delivery was so much better that the client didn't make the connection.
My favorite line in the book is "be yourself, everyone else is taken". Seems like common sense but very few people act like themselves during a presentation. Coughter says that trying to be professional actually makes us appear less genuine because we are trying to be someone other than ourselves. It is amazing how many engaging and confident people lose their best qualities once they are placed in a formal presentation setting.
Cougher's advice is simple but it takes hard work and courage to put into practice. I continually refer to the book for new ideas and inspiration prior to every client/prospect engagement, and I have no doubt that I will continue to do the same now that I have vowed never to give another mediocre power point presentation!
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