I think I might just know where your pitch hopes went.
The pitch with the killer insights, the great ideas, the wonderful graphics, the vox pops and the no-doubt expensive props.
The hopes of the gap closed, the awards won, the ego boosted, the moment of glory and the front page story.
I think your pitch hopes might well have sailed west, like plenty of mine.
Not in to the sunset.
But in to The Bemused Triangle.
In the same way that, as legend has it, The Bermuda Triangle accounts for the mysterious disappearance of ships and aircraft, The Bemused Triangle accounts for the loss of, well, shiny new accounts.
It can manifest at any point in a pitch.
Denying momentum at the start. Sucking the life out of strategy. Undermining conviction in conclusion.
The Bemused Triangle occurs at the precise moment that your client does not naturally andunconsciously know where to look. The three corners of the triangle define the disconnect between you as presenter, the screen (or other prop) and the client’s attention.
The client, at one vertice, is left bemused about which straight line they should follow.
Do they look at you, presenting?
Or, do they look at the screen?
If you, presenting, spend most of your time looking at the screen, then so will the client. At least to start with. Until, tired of the side of your head, they allow their thoughts to drift off elsewhere. To a place where at best they’re thinking about tonight’s drinks party and at worst wondering why you seem unable to resist the siren call of the screen. Does the guy really know this stuff, or not?
When, finally, you next try to catch their eye, you’ll feel that you’ve lost them, and you’ll compensate by trying harder to catch their attention.
And risk slipping too far in to sales mode. Away from the relaxed and conversational expert you started out as, just minutes before.
Colleagues, aware that you’re getting sucked in to The Bemused Triangle, try to help by throwing a life raft your way. Jumping in with a sonorous, ‘what I think we’re trying to say here…’
Kindly meant. But leaving you spent. Diminished as a force in the presentation; undermined in the client’s pitch-sharp and unforgiving eyes.
Avoiding the choppy waters of The Bemused Triangle is something I talk about in a workshop called Holding The Room.
What I say in the workshop is this.
Remember that the screen is your servant, not your master.
Remember that your default position is that you want the client’s eyes to rest easily on you all the timewhen you are presenting.
Until the specific moment that you direct them to the screen, telling them why they should look at it. And then you purposefully draw them back to looking at you, after a pause that is three to five seconds longer than you think it should be.
Being confident in your own presentation skills is of course inherent in making yourself a comfortable, interesting and engaging place for the eyes of your pitch-weary client audience to rest.
And that’s something else we cover in the workshop. As well as avoiding hot air in presentations – not least because, according to recent reports, that’s what might well lie behind the mysteries of The Bermuda Triangle.
Chris Wood, Partner, Sense of Purpose Ltd
Looks familiar? Perhaps because this peice first appeared as a guest blog here:http://theartofnewbusiness.com/guest-post-pitching-soon-beware-bemused-triangle-chris-wood-partner-sense-purpose/#.VEYtTvldWn8