By George Mc Quade
“ It can be a matter of seconds, perhaps up to 30 seconds for someone to decide if they like you,” Los Angeles-based author Gary Hankins of The Power of the Pitch told a packed house (Feb. 19, 2009) of mostly writers, producers, actors and members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, home of the prestigious Emmy® award. The Academy sponsored event was held at the CBS Studios, Studio City, CA. “The most important rule in making a successful pitch is that people must like you,” he said.
Hankins outline three qualities people must like that define you.
- How you look
- How you sound
- What you say
“If they don’t they don’t, they won’t listen to you, vote for you, be persuaded by you, or buy your products or services,” Hankins said. The 258 page book, The Power of the Pitchis available Online at Amazon.com or DearbornTrade.com.
Hankins notes that a Stanford and UCLA study concludes that your appearance accounts for 55 percent of your total likeability; your voice, 38 percent; and your message, seven percent.
Hankins offers several tips on how to dress, hand gestures, eye contact and hitting the homerun pitch to win more business.
“You should adopt the Rock Star Attitude, he said. In The book, Hankins tells the story of Garth Brooks. “Despite his talent, he didn’t make it in country
music until he discovered in his first record deal that it took more than skill to become a star.”
Hankins said Garth Brooks moved to Nashville to become a star, but during his interview the record company said ‘you have a great voice, but no appeal to your audiences.’Brooks’ roommate, also a musician told him maybe he should change his ways. He realized that he needed to connect with his audiences.
“When Brooks found something he liked in everyone that came to see him, people couldn’t help but like him back. After he started interacting with his audiences, Capital Records signed him, and 10 years later he had sold more records than the Beatles,” said Hankins.
Hankins offers several rules of engagement in his book often taken for granted, which he abbreviates as S.T.A.R. “Grab their attention with S-star or shocking openers; T-telling a story or citing a study; A-asking questions; R-reciting a quote.”
After you grab their attention you need to have a persuasive model. The body of your presentation should preview what you are going to cover. What’s in it for them? Purpose? Why they should pay attention?
Hankins used a wiffle bat to drive home his message, “your talk should be entertaining and informative.” He tossed orange smiley face balls to anyone who had good answers to his questions.
During presentations Hankins said you should ask questions before you conclude your talk. “If you don’t answer the questions well, it will be the last thing they remember. If it wasn’t covered well, you can recap in the conclusion, which is more powerful and the last thing they remember.”
Other rules to remember:
- Avoid telling everything you know (be a good listener)
- Keep it entertaining and educational
- Keep good posture (standing at parade rest you might start rocking)
- No more than six bullet points with no more than two words
- We would rather look at pictures, charts and graphics
“There was a time when people liked to read to us.” Don’t do it with a powerpoint presentations (PPP),” he said. “People do not use PPP well.”
Hankins also provides inside steps to handle objections to your presentations or proposals.
1. stay cool and calm
2. Don’t argue with people who say, “doesn’t sound like a good idea
3. Seek specifics (“What gives you that feeling? Too much money?”
4. The feel-tell-found formula (“I understand how you feel, someone else felt the same way, however when we show him our model they found we had the best one.”
“When wrapping up your presentation or proposal remember to use S.T.A.R.S,” he said. “Startle, tell a story or joke, asking questions and recite a quote.” Hankins said if you feel good about your presentation, “ask for their business.”
“So how does it sound? Can you see me on the team? What makes you not sure? What are your concerns? (ask questions)
And Hankins said do NOT say, “Thank You,” at the end of your presentation. “You don’t need to say ‘the end,’ like we used to see at the conclusion of old movies. Say it earlier, thank you for your time, and move on to your speech.”
Hankins also offers this advice when speaking with an objective.
- Your intro should be a a grabber
- Don’t begin with an apology (sorry didn’t get much sleep last night,etc)
- Announcing topics – don’t (“Great to be here at CBS Studios.”)
- Know your presentation – practice and rehearse it”
“Not being prepared in every pitch will kill your presentation,” said Hankins. “No matter how good your pitch is, if you can’t powerfully respond to difficult questions and objections, it’s over.”
Personal Brand: Things to remember
- You’re always on stage
- You should be creative, distinctive
- Show your personal brand –
- (it says why someone should pick you over someone else)
Finally, Hankins emphasizes that you need to bring passion to your communications. He played a video where Microsoft’s Steve Balmer jumped out on a company staged and screamed, “I love this company.” He also talked about the importance of voice inflection. “Be careful about pacing,”said Hankins. “Slow down on more important points and use positive words.
Words and phrases to leave at home during your presentation:
WRONG:“I think; I believe in my opinion; I feel that way; hopefully; maybe.”
BETTER: “I’m confident you will see; we have a terrific team to do the job; what we will do for you..and so on.”
Avoid fillers like: “You know; and; uh.” There is nothing wrong with a pause for thought.
“To win, you must show that you like who you are talking to. Start by maintaining eye contact and smiling. Often, we concentrate so hard on what we’re saying that we forget about our facial expressions. We give the impression that we’re self-focused and egotistical,” explained Hankins. His next book. “Be a Rock Star.”
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