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Making the First Pitch

by Vivian Scott
December 2011

Conflicts of Interest Blog by Vivian Scott

Vivian Scott

Needing to land a big client, talking the family into taking a risky adventure holiday, or sharing a perspective in a dispute all have something in common. All three are presentations (or pitches if you will) for getting someone to agree to what you want.

Johnny Chan of the San Diego digital marketing consultancy firm eBoost Consulting, put together a few tips he thinks companies should remember when they’re out to impress and win business. I think those tips also make sense for anyone who needs to get his point of view considered in a disagreement, so I’m going to share them with you with my interpretations for how they relate to resolving conflicts.

Johnny Chan says:

There are three things you need to do in order to produce an excellent pitch:

Craft a compelling message
Enhance with compelling visuals
Deliver with impact
I say:

There are three things you need to do in order for someone to consider your perspective:

Craft a compelling message
Enhance with inviting tone and body language
Deliver with sincerity
Johnny Chan says about the message:
Children are great storytellers. They’re not only energetic and enthusiastic about what they’re saying, but they focus everything around the listener.

When you’re making a pitch, tell listener-focused stories that engage and spike the interest of your audience. You do this by crafting your message around your intended listener. Start with your point of view or the “thesis” of your presentation, move to the actions your client can take to achieve their goals and then explain the benefits of these actions.

Be compelling and grab your client’s attention with what you have to say. Sprinkling your presentation with anecdotes or opening with a story that will lead into your pitch is a great way to grasp attention.

I say about the message:

Yep, he’s right when he talks about being listener-focused. Craft a message that will be easy for your listener to hear. Only talking about your side of a disagreement or pointing out everything the other person has done wrong, isn’t compelling. People want to do what’s right—especially for themselves—so if you’re only talking about you, you’ve lost half your audience.

Johnny Chan says about the visuals:
Compelling visuals can make your presentation interesting, engaging and memorable.

The most important visual aspect of your presentation are a killer title and opening slides.

These will set the theme (style, tone, color) to make it a cohesive story. Using beautiful and relative visuals will stimulate the listener’s interest throughout the entire presentation.

Along with photos, data can be effective. Data provides concrete and tangible detail to your presentation, and allows for minimal word usage. Remember that your entire presentation should be no more than 25 words.

I say about the visuals:

The way you talk about your point of view can be more impactful than the content. Having relaxed and open body language from the start (your opening slide, so to speak) can set the tone for a productive conversation. Unfold your arms, loosen that stiff upper lip, and keep control over your rolling eyes

Johnny Chan says about the delivery:
Delivering a message with impact relies completely on the presenter, and what that presenter does. The entire delivery of your presentation should include these five things:

I say about the delivery:

How your perspective is received relies heavily on the level of sincerity in which it is delivered. Recap the situation as you see it without placing blame. If you’re generally good at humor, it’s okay to use it but be sure you’re the target of the humor, not the other person. Analogies are my best friends—I use them daily! If you’re having a difficult time explaining the impact an action had on you, it can be very helpful to use an analogy as a way to create common ground.

Johnny Chan’s extra tips

Use Guy Kawaski’s 10:20:30 style: 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 size fonts.
Always supply the client with a document of the proposal along with the presentation. The effects of your stunning presentation will eventually fade and that is when the document comes into play.
If you get presentation nerves, practice at least 20 times so that you are completely comfortable and familiar with it.
My extra tips:

Keep it short, simple, and to the point.
If you’re nervous, practice what you’d like to say with someone you trust so they can give you pointers if you’re veering off course.
Once you’ve had the discussion, either create a written agreement right then and there or follow up with a note recapping what you believe the plan is moving forward.
Johnny Chan says anyone can do it:

Chan believes that you don’t have to be a natural-born presenter in order to give engaging, compelling and interesting presentations.

I say:

Oh, absolutely, anyone can do this.


Vivian Scott is a Professional Certified Mediator and the author of Conflict Resolution at Work For Dummies.  She spent many years in the competitive and often stress-filled world of high tech marketing where she realized resolving conflict within the confines of office politics was paramount to success.  Through creative solutions to common conflicts she was able to bring various entities together, both internally and externally, for the betterment of projects and a productive working environment.     

Prior to retiring from Microsoft in 1999 she developed the “America at Work” video series, a six-part program featuring small businesses employing technology in attention-grabbing ways.  “America at Work” aired on the USA Network and received the Silver Screen Award from the International Film and Video Festival for outstanding creativity.   Using discerning negotiation, mediation, and problem-solving skills, she successfully worked with others to co-create “How-to Guides”, “Seminar in a Box”, and even one of the first on-line Guerrilla Marketing books.   

Since her retirement, Ms. Scott has gone on to earn a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences with a concentration in American Studies from the University of Washington.  She completed an extensive practicum with the Dispute Resolution Center of Snohomish & Island Counties where she has mediated numerous cases, helping parties resolve conflict in workplace, family, and other disputes.  Her private mediation practice has handled cases ranging from assisting business partners in ending their relationship to creating a new working environment within a law firm.  Ms. Scott is a member of the Washington Mediation Association and spends a majority of her time advocating embracing peace in a volatile world.   

Her book, Conflict Resolution at Work For Dummies, can be found in bookstores, on,, or any number of on-line bookseller sites.    

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