And How to Avoid Them
I finished my presentation and looked around the room. I was sure that I nailed it. The case for action was clear. I covered all the points I wanted to make. Now I just needed to secure everyone’s support for the proposal.
I scanned the faces around the table and saw… disinterest. Polite disinterest, mind you, but disinterest all the same. One of managers was trying to hide a yawn. Another was mentally counting the seconds until she could move on to something else. Someone else was trying to stealthily check his phone.
Overall, it was a complete failure.
What’s the matter with these people? How could they not be excited? Don’t they see the problem facing our company? Don’t they see the opportunity in front of us?
Apparently not. Instead of getting support and moving the company forward in a new direction, my pitch fell flat, and I was going to be leaving with nothing.
It wasn’t until later that I realized it was all my fault.
Nancy Duarte wrote, “The audience does not need to tune themselves to you — you need to tune your message to them.” Making a pitch, whether you’re trying to sell an idea, a product, or yourself, is simply a matter of influence. And a key rule of influence is that you need to meet the other person where they are.
This goes far beyond sales techniques. Whether you’re making formal presentations or having informal conversations, we all make pitches every day. From sending emails to running meetings, we’re constantly trying to influence other people to see our views and change their behaviors.
And if, like me, you’re making these same mistakes, you’re limiting your influence and your ability to lead others.
Mistake #1: Not Selling the Problem
At its most basic level, pitching an idea is trying to convince someone to make a change. And change is hard. Getting people to change is one of the most difficult things you can do as a leader. It takes a lot of energy to shock people out of their comfort zones and convince them to take a risk on something new.