Good in a Room: How to Sell Yourself (and Your Ideas) and Win Over Any Audience

Overview

Business consultant and former MGM director of creative affairs Stephanie Palmer reveals the techniques used by Hollywood's top writers, producers, and directors to get financing for their projects and explains how you can apply these techniques to be more successful in your own high-stakes meetings. Because, as Palmer has found, the strategies used to sell yourself and your ideas in Hollywood not only work in other businesses, they often work better.

Whether you are a manager ...

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Good in a Room: How to Sell Yourself (and Your Ideas) and Win Over Any Audience

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Overview

Business consultant and former MGM director of creative affairs Stephanie Palmer reveals the techniques used by Hollywood's top writers, producers, and directors to get financing for their projects and explains how you can apply these techniques to be more successful in your own high-stakes meetings. Because, as Palmer has found, the strategies used to sell yourself and your ideas in Hollywood not only work in other businesses, they often work better.

Whether you are a manager or executive with an innovative proposal, a professional with a hot concept, a salesperson selling to a potential client or investor, or an entrepreneur with a business plan, Good in a Room shows you how to:

—Master the five stages of the face-to-face meeting

—Avoid the secret deal breakers of the first ninety seconds

—Be confident in high-pressure situations

—Present yourself better and more effectively than you ever have before

Whether you want to ask for a raise, grow your client list, launch a new business, or find financing for a creative project, you must not only present your ideas in a compelling way—you must also sell yourself. Good in a Room shows you how to construct a winning presentation and deliver the kind of performance that will get your project greenlighted, whatever industry you are in.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Palmer (former director of creative affairs, MGM) applies her knowledge of the strategies and tactics used by film directors and writers for pitching ideas to help businesspeople generally become better sellers. The book proceeds chronologically, describing the process of making connections with people in your industry, and developing persuasive presentations about yourself and your project. Palmer concentrates evenly on social networks and communication skills, both formal and informal. Brief chapters focus on a concept or strategy, which makes it easy to navigate the topics that are of greatest interest to particular readers. Case studies and the author's personal experiences supplement his explanation of the principles with minimal use of outside sources. Those interested in careers in the creative arts will find this book especially helpful, but the approach also makes it relevant to those interested in professional and personal development generally. Recommended for all public libraries and some undergraduate library collections.
—Mark L. McCallon

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400106721
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/1/2008
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 7 CDs, 8 hrs. 30 min.
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Stephanie Palmer, a former MGM executive, coaches business leaders and creative professionals in a wide range of industries to help them get their ideas the attention and financing they deserve.

Judith Brackley worked in major market radio for twenty years and has numerous radio spots, industrial voice-overs, and narrations to her credit.

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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1 Why You Should Read This Book


The reason you should read this book is because the strategies and tactics that people use to sell ideas in Hollywood work in the rest of the business world. I have worked with entrepreneurs, executives, and professionals in industries such as real estate, financial services, retail sales, law, advertising, marketing, video games, and more. The techniques used to sell ideas in Hollywood not only work in other industries, they often work better.

As you already know, “good in a room” is a Hollywood term referring to creative people who excel at pitching in high-stakes meetings. I’ve had–literally–thousands of these meetings. During my time as a studio executive at MGM, I had over three thousand pitch meetings where writers, directors, stars, and producers would try to persuade me to buy their ideas.

Most of the time, ideas are pitched poorly. However, there are some people who succeed all the time. Over a period of years, I paid attention to what worked and what didn’t. I identified the techniques that were being used in all of the successful meetings–regardless of who was pitching. I also found a considerable number of ways that the person pitching could break the deal, often without knowing it.

Many studio executives, or “suits,” have backgrounds in sales, marketing, or finance. My degree is in theatrical directing from Carnegie Mellon. So when I started hearing pitches, I wasn’t just thinking about whether to say yes or no. I was seeing the meeting as a theatrical performance.

Unfortunately, most writers, like most people, do nothave a comprehensive strategy to deliver a great performance. When the time comes to pitch in a high-stakes situation, even someone experienced can stumble and ruin a golden opportunity without a solid meeting technique.

When someone with a great idea doesn’t present it effectively, it not only hurts them, but all of us as well. Why? Because mediocre ideas will get purchased and produced if superior ideas aren’t pitched well enough.

The fact is that when it comes to making a buying decision, buyers can more easily evaluate the information on the surface, i.e., the pitch. It’s harder to evaluate what’s inside. As you know, this is true beyond Hollywood. In a grocery aisle, success is determined more by the design and copywriting on the packaging than by the quality of the product. In job interviews, hiring decisions tend to look past differences in work experience and focus on how the candidates perform in the room. My point is not that pitching is everything. Rather, it’s that good products deserve good packaging and great ideas deserve a great pitch.

Even shy, awkward, introverted people can learn to pitch well. One of my highlights from MGM was when I found a new writer named Mike who was pitching a high school comedy with a unique angle. His script was great, but his pitch was a disaster. He didn’t know how to handle the small talk, he pitched too soon and with way too much detail–he broke the deal in a dozen different ways. Ordinarily I would just pass on his project, but I was frustrated with the quality of the movies we were making and I didn’t want to send this great script back to the slush pile. So I coached Mike on how to perform in each stage of the meeting and told him exactly what to say when my boss asked, “So, what’s your project about?”

The next day, Mike pitched his idea beautifully to my boss, and it sold right there in the meeting. Afterward, he told me that he’d been staying on his brother’s couch for the last three months and was preparing to move back in with his parents. With this one sale, his career was on an entirely new trajectory. And for me, in a job where so much of my time was spent surviving cutthroat politics and producing mediocre ideas, helping Mike succeed was really gratifying. I realized then that I wanted to focus on pitching, not production.

A year later, I left my executive job and started my own company, also called Good in a Room, to help writers and directors with quality ideas get the attention and financing they deserve. Then I did an interview with National Public Radio and I started getting some remarkable calls. A fashion designer wanted help bringing out his summer collection. A marketing exec wanted to get promoted to VP. A financial advisor wanted to find new clients and expand her business.

Soon enough, my non-Hollywood clients were landing million-dollar accounts, doubling their client rosters, launching successful small businesses, increasing their revenue, and getting promoted. Sure, some of my clients were skeptical at first. William, for example, was a sixty-something financial advisor from Texas. We met at the Merrill Lynch campus in New Jersey. I was there to give the concluding presentation at the annual conference for top producers.

William was already quite successful. He didn’t need to change how he was doing business. As well, he was in a conservative business in a conservative part of the country, so anything that came out of a liberal place such as Hollywood was immediately suspect.

Still, he wanted to take his business to the next level, and he was smart enough to realize that unless he wanted to simply put in more hours and work harder, he was going to have to try something new. I consulted with him the next morning before we went to the airport and suggested that he modify his standard approach in a few significant ways. He was doubtful, but he said he’d give it a shot when he got back to Texas.

When I landed in LA, William had already left me a message. Turns out the guy sitting next to him on the plane had just sold his business and needed a financial advisor he could trust. Rather than trying to “sell” him, as so many financial advisors do, my client practiced the Good in a Room techniques and signed him rather effortlessly.

Meeting a client on a plane is practically a cliché (though in reality, it doesn’t happen very often), and all of the credit belongs to William. Still, the idea that a sixty-something financial advisor in conservative Texas could, with one consultation, master and successfully apply what works for thirty-something writers in liberal Los Angeles? Very cool.

Whether you work in Hollywood or not, the fact is that selling ideas is really difficult to do. The reason the pitching secrets of the most successful writers and directors are relevant is that these people have evolved an advanced method for selling ideas.

Whether you’re a screenwriter, a journalist with an idea for a story, an entrepreneur with a business plan, an inventor with a blueprint, or a manager with an innovative solution, if you want other people to invest their time, energy, and money in your idea, you face an uphill battle.

First, ideas aren’t tangible–no one can kick the tires of your idea. Second, ideas aren’t quantifiable–the decision maker can’t reliably estimate the value of your idea in monetary terms. As my boss at MGM used to say, “If we knew which ideas would be hits, we would only make hits.” Third, ideas are risky–there can be millions of dollars on the line and reputations at stake when a buyer says yes to an idea. Fourth, people who buy ideas hear so many pitches that getting their attention and actually convincing them is exceptionally difficult. Finally, the more original your idea is, the tougher it is to pitch effectively. Any groundbreaking idea will be harder to sell simply because there isn’t a precedent to show it will work.

As risks increase and buyers become more difficult to persuade, people who sell ideas must clear an even higher bar. We must get in the right rooms with the right people. We need a comprehensive strategy and the most advanced tactics. Then we can present ourselves and our ideas with confidence.

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Table of Contents

Introduction     1
Why You Should Read This Book     3
Who This Book Is For     8
What's in This Book and How to Use It     16
How to Swim with Sharks
Secrets of Rapport     22
It's What You Know     28
Go Back to Square One     33
Make It Easy on the Other Person     41
The Nature of Confidence     45
Titles, Teasers, and Trailers
The Myth of the Elevator Pitch     53
The Title Creation Word Grid     56
Teasers for All Occasions     62
Trailers That Work     68
The Four Questions     79
Getting in the Room
Stop Networking Now     91
The Only Networking Principle That Means Anything     95
The Best Networking Events     97
Discover More Good People to Know     101
Cultivate Your VIPs     105
Nurture Your Inner Circle     110
Inside the Room
The Five Stages of a Meeting     116
Before You Go into the Room     121
Avoid Deal Breakers     124
Dumb Is the New Smart     130
100 Percent Outward Focus     134
How to Ask Great Questions     141
Show, Don't Tell     150
Why You Should Love Q&A     161
The Closing Sequence     167
How to Get Out of the Room     174
After You Leave the Room     178
Before You Go into the Next Room     181
Mini-Meetings
How to Make Requests     188
How to Keep in Touch     205
How to Follow Up     212
How to Say No     231
Troubleshooting
Interruptions, Mistakes, and Catastrophes     241
Bad Buyers     244
Partner Hijinks     249
Read This Chapter When You Get Stuck     254
The Credits     261
Epilogue     263
Keep in Touch     265
Index     267
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 7 of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2008

    Networking a New Way (really!)

    Stephanie cut to the chase on what really matters in business. I highly recommend Stephanie's book. I believe the author captures the best way to view your business life, your interactions with people and how to have meaningful & productive business relationships - who knows, maybe even some meaningful & productive personal relationships too!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2008

    A reviewer

    I have been interviewing for a couple months for Director of Marketing positions and I thought I was doing okay 'it was usually down to me and someone else', but I never seemed to get the job. I bought Good in a Room because I get nervous sometimes and I know that I'm supposed to talk about myself but I'm not a super outgoing person. I have the experience, but I think my competition just must be better at selling themselves. I loved this because I finally understand what the interviewer is looking for. I get it now and I wish I had read this years ago! I had an interview this afternoon 'for a job I REALLY want' and I practiced the techniques of Ch. 24: 100 Percent Outward Focus and Ch. 25: How To Ask Great Questions. The interview was so different. She was so interested in what I had to say and it felt so natural. I knew what to expect and what to say and I didn't feel nervous at all. The best thing is, she already asked me to come in for a second meeting with the boss!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2008

    A Guide for Life!

    GOOD IN A ROOM is a guidebook for the rest of your professional life. Author Stephanie Palmer directs you toward becoming the total package in the immediate and long term no matter what business you¿re in. Let's face it your business lifespan doesn't end when you hear yes for the first time. You have to follow up, close the deal and do so in a way that makes the buyer want to say yes to you the next time. I¿m going to keep this book within close reach from now on. It articulates the subtle nuances of many business relationships that make or break deals and business partnerships. When the stakes are high this is a perspective I trust to help me close the deal and to achieve career longevity.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2008

    Good in a Room: How to Sell Yourself (and Your Ideas) and Win Over Any Audience

    The material presented from Stephanie Palmer is well organized and based on REAL research and information. She is very candid about what the facts do and don't support. This book is not a blah, blah, blah ¿I¿ll make you rich and famous¿ book. Palmer¿s dissertation is based on facts, and the how those facts apply to whatever industry you¿re in. In this regard, I believe Good in a Room presents a very solid body of information beneficial to anyone interested how to better present your ideas. And, it's very enjoyable too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2008

    Good in a Room: How to Sell Yourself (and Your Ideas) and Win Over Any Audience

    Palmer combines humor, experience and a focus on pragmatic techniques. It has helped me understand how to more effectively sell my ideas when I go into meetings.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 7 of 6 Customer Reviews

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