Pitch Writing & Presentation

'Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.' - Leo Burnett

Having a great idea, an experienced team and competitive costs counts for nothing if you can't sell your proposal. In our business the winner takes all. There are no consolation prizes. And losing can be very expensive for the production companies who don't win.

Many years ago when I walked into an agency and told them I could write I was told, 'your desk is over there. We've got a pitch going out next week. Start writing.' It wasn't quite 'in at the deep end' - I had a great mentor - but it was a case of learning to swim quickly! I soon began to get the hang of 'writing proposals that sell.' Since then I have worked with many agencies to help write their pitch documents and presentations.

I have also helped them at the live pitch stage. In a former life I was an actor and I have also done one of the world's most terrifying jobs - supply teaching.

This involved standing up in front of a bunch of kids who saw you as fair game and didn't want to be in school, and attempt to interest them! So I understand about the need to capture your audience's imagination when you're pitching an idea.

I still get nervous. You need nervous energy to be effective but you mustn't let it cripple you. As a former actor I know some of the techniques for dealing with this and I have been known to subject the presentation team to the occasional 'warm up.'

One of the keys to success is engaging with the client in advance and finding out what they really want - this is often not articulated in the brief. But, however well you prepare, you never know if you are going to win - there's no magic formula.

On one occasion at the Visual Connection we pitched for an amazing project - the Health Futures pavilion at Expo 2000. We were presenting to the Japanese architect, Toyo Ito, and his team. We were feeling somewhat discouraged as nobody had nodded, smiled or shown any 'buying signals.' What was worse, we couldn't understand anything they said to each other.

However, we had employed a Japanese speaker for the pitch. During a break, we asked him forlornly, 'what are they saying?' He smiled, 'they love it!' He was right - we won!