Avoiding crickets in new business pitches, part two

Just how do you keep the room crackling with energy instead of feeling the need to break out the shadow puppets? Sure, you can pepper in some questions throughout the presentation to build in some interaction and discussion. But today, I thought you might appreciate a few hundred words or so on a related technique. It’s more of a role in a presentation than a method, really. Let’s call it  “the steward.”

While they may deliver content, this person is more cajoler, interpreter and verbal glad hander. You could see this as color commentary! Through a well-placed question or statement directed at the audience, they help ensure the audience is seeing the value of what the team is saying. And make the meeting more of a discussion than a one-sided presentation.

The very best example of someone that comes to mind is a guy named Chuck Porter. Yup, the “Porter” of Crispin Porter & Bogusky. It’s been said he excels in the role of steward, using a unique combination of charm and smarts to ensure his team’s content is being understood and appreciated. He thinks nothing of asking his prospects, “So, is what these guys saying making sense?” And he does this right in the middle of the presentation. It’s like he has put his arm around the audience and is right there beside them instead of being on the other side of the proverbial table.

Now, we all can’t all be Chuck Porter. But we can practice sharp, active listening and reading a prospect when someone else on your team is delivering content. (And lending a hand.)

Part of the skill set required includes intimate knowledge of the presentation, of course. And the ability to make sure the group doesn’t head too far off topic. You can always table something and offer to follow up after the presentation. This brings with it the added benefit of having another contact opportunity to be brilliant. Or at least helpful!

Many times, the steward is the agency leader. This can work well in smaller agencies, when the agency leader will actually be working on the piece of business. That’s not going to work at bigger agencies though, right? So, consider giving the role to someone else.

Looking for some more thoughts?! Try here for part one and here for part three.