The Art of the Pitch: Persuasion and Presentation Skills that Win Business

The Art of the Pitch: Persuasion and Presentation Skills that Win Business

by P. Coughter
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The Art of the Pitch: Persuasion and Presentation Skills that Win Business 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
ricej3 More than 1 year ago
The book “The Art of the Pitch: Persuasion and Presentation Skills that Win Business” written by Peter Coughter was a book written from a marketing executive perspective focusing on its main point that a good product is not enough to win. Once reading the book, it is clear Coughter’s audience are presenters. While the book offers advice for marketing in general, the tips he provides are aimed at the presentation side of marketing more so than the analytical and statistical side. The biggest take away from the book, for me, was that your “presentation” isn’t even a presentation; it’s a conversation. I found this interesting because for most of my life, I had been taught to keep things professional and to put your best foot forward. And while it is certainly true that you need to be at the top of your game, Coughter stresses how important it is to be yourself and not to be afraid to get a little personal. To be able to present in a fashion that is smooth and casual, it is crucial to truly know and understand what you are presenting. Though it can be intimidating, “the surest defense against nerves is this- know your stuff” (Coughter 90). Memorizing facts about what you are selling and actually knowing the product/ service and being able to answer questions and bail out teammates is crucial to a presentation. Not only should you know about the product/ service you are pitching, you should know who your audience. Know more than the menial things about who they are, know enough so that you can connect with them on a personal and emotional level. A product can be amazing, but if the pitch is boring, strictly fact based, and unemotional the product may not necessarily sell. Drawing from the idea that this is a conversation where the presenter is doing most of the talking, what makes a conversation interesting? Personal stories, making it clear that you understand your audience, and authenticity. No one wants to be in a long, boring conversation with information that goes in one ear and out the other; the same goes for the presentation. Although not necessarily a formal presentation, I often find the manager at my job employing these same tactics to sell his food. He not only makes sure that the customers are happy with their food, he makes a personal connection with them. I have noticed he will pull up a chair or kneel next to them so that he is on the same level as them to make the conversation even more personal. By doing this and creating a bond with his customers, he is able to get them to try new food, buy more, keep them coming back etc. I liked how Coughter not only offered tips for how to liven up presentations and make it easier for presenters to sell their project, he gave real world examples. For instance, he wrote in stories from presentations of a Mercedes- Benz pitch. Including stories from ad executives who explained why their presentations worked and didn’t work put more context to the information Coughter was giving to us. Coughter included tips that seem obvious like always rehearse, be on time, be on the same page as your teammates, etc. but overall, the book did a fantastic job in teaching not only marketing executives how to give a presentation, but anyone who needs to learn how to give a better presentation. As for downfalls, the book can be repetitive as it based around the notion that it all leads back to a conversation and characteristics of a conversation should be seen in your presentation. However, the repet
steven2 More than 1 year ago
 The Art of the Pitch is a marketing trade book written by accomplished professor and businessman Peter Coughter. Coughter founded and was the president of one of the most respected add-agencies in the Southeast. Currently, he is the president of Coughter and Company which consults the most respected agencies across the globe. His book is a masterful guide that simplifies the single most feared aspect of human life: giving a presentation in front of a group of people. Each year, surveys show that spiders, drowning, and ghosts are all less feared than public speaking. Clearly, the public at large could use guidance when it comes to giving oral presentations. With many years in the industry at his back, Coughter effectively debunks the notion that presentations are impossible to conquer. Through its clear outline of necessary skills contained within successful presenters and fitting inclusions of knowledgeable anecdotes, The Art of the Pitch is sure to propel you to the top of your game. “Everything is a presentation,” according to Coughter. From the very onset of the book, he establishes this main idea and uses it as a theme throughout his work. Of course job interviews and proposals to a Board of Directors are presentations, but the book emphasizes the fact that one can be judged by the way he acts in any situation. A few of the 11 characteristics of successful presenters were rather simple, but others such as reaching a level of intimacy or making sure every member of the team masters the entire presentation proves that there is much more to presenting than meets the layman’s eye. The author then puts a sense of ease in the reader’s mind by stressing that any presentation is about the audience. Coughter claims, “Without them, there’s nothing for you to do. Without you, they have no reason for being there. So you’re dependent upon one another to pull this thing off.” When presenting, it is crucial to discern between some common mistakes that people make. One must act confident rather than cocky, use self-depreciating real world humor rather than corny jokes, and be simplistic rather than wordy. The cookie cutter mold of lengthy PowerPoint presentations with every inch covered in facts is a death sentence. Throughout the rest of the book Coughter goes into detail on previously talked about material as well as touches upon new topics, such as the layout of the presentation, the importance of practice, and the need to speak fluently and clearly. All in all, The Art of the Pitch ensures that the reader misses no steps in his or her preparation.  What I enjoyed most about the book was the way that Coughter used it as his own presentation to the reader. Following his own guidelines that he laid out, he was able to turn a dreaded topic into a fascinating one. If tasked to read a how-to book on presenting, I would certainly approach the situation with some discontent. Yet, The Art of the Pitch had me engaged from the first page to the last. Coughter wrote the book with a conversational tone, used engaging rhetoric, but above all he created a sense of legitimacy with his readers. With authenticity as one of the main points of the book, Coughter made sure every reader knew he was a big deal. After experiencing so many years in the industry, Coughter used a myriad of real world examples to his advantage as his audience was delighted with stories of both captivating and abysmal presentations. The verification did not stop there, as he used quotes and anecdotes from his expert friends in the field of advertising. Each technique used by the author allows him to accomplish one very important objective; he both stresses the importance of good presentations while allowing the readers to believe they can conquer their feared enemy. If he were to talk for 300 pages merely about how crucial public speaking skills are, he would have frightened his audience. On the flipside, if all the book did was say how presentations were a breeze, readers would undermine the importance of the presentations themselves. Instead, Coughter uses a perfect balance of the two, creating motivation and confidence amongst his audience.   My recommendation is clear; The Art of the Pitch is a wonderful and necessary guide for those who call any occupation their profession. As a freshman business major eager to see what his career has waiting him in the future, this book motivated me to be the best I can be, and taught me how it is possible to do so. From bankers to artists, construction workers to athletes, or lawyers to actors, there is not one individual who will not benefit from reading this book. There is no reason why any reader out there cannot achieve the great heights described by Coughter and his peers. 
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