Tag Archives: Presentation Skills

4 Steps to a Successful Pitch Presentation

I recently received a slide deck from a prospective client who wishes to have more success when pitching for business and was seeking my help.

On reviewing their deck, I made the following observations.

Like the majority of decks I receive, it started by telling all about themselves and then preceded to tell all about what they do, before petering out while providing little by way of insights into how they benefit their prospective client.

Step 1:

My first action always is to print out the slides (6 to a page to save paper and ink) I then cut the pages and lay the slides out on my office floor in the order as received.

Step 2:

I then proceed to rearrange the slides into the order that reflects the talk template that I would wish the presentation to follow.

Start with the problem you solve for your prospective client!

This allows you to engage the audience in a discussion about the problem(s) you believe they have and get their agreement.

Now you can introduce yourself and your organisation briefly. Remember you would not have been selected to pitch if you did not fulfil the client’s criteria (and they probably do not need to know you have an office in Timbuktu).

Step 3:

Next, tell the client, using stories, analogies, statistics and examples, what you can do for them. Remember – data overload is to be avoided here at all costs; your job is not to beat the client into submission by telling them everything you do, but rather excite them with the specific information that they need to know and that ideally differentiate you from your competitors.

Step 4:

Finally finish with a restatement of how working with your organisation will solve their problem(s) and significantly benefit them.


Now back to my Prospects Presentation Deck:

In this case, having rearranged the slides I found only one slide which touched on the prospects problem(s) out of the total of 17 slides!

Three slides were all about their organisation.

And the balance was all about what they do!

The final slides said Thank You, completely missing out on the opportunity to drive home the message about how you benefit the prospective client.


My prospective client was very happy with how I rearranged their slide deck, and I believe with some coaching of the pitch team and the addition of a couple of slides, they will be likely to win more business in the future.


If you are tired not winning enough pitches perhaps you should review your slide deck and see which format you are using.

Is it all about you or

all about how you help clients to prosper?


If it’s the former, why not get in touch and learn how my clients have dramatically improved their success rate when pitching for business.

You may be interested in my next masterclass – click below for details and tickets:

Overcome Your Reluctance to Speak in Public – and Watch Your Career Grow

Tuesday 13th March 2018 – 9.30 a.m. to 12 noon –
NCI, Mayor Square, IFSC, Dublin 1 

Early bird ticket of €80 finishes at midnight on Wednesday 28th February.

THE END … Do you hear “WOW!” or “Let’s get out of here?”









“A speech is like a love affair. Any fool can start it, but to end it requires considerable skill.”  Lord Mancroft

When working with clients to prepare them for important presentations, I have noticed over the years that they always start at the beginning, and proceed to fill the body of the talk with everything they know or feel that they must tell their audience, in order to engage them.

On movie websites you see similar ambition:

Thor: Ragnarok

Action/Adventure/Comedy/Fantasy /Science Fiction

Justice League

Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Science Fiction

The Snowman


Big Hero 6

Adventure/Family/Animation/ Action/Comedy


I would much prefer a simpler message:






How many times have you gone to the cinema and sat through 90+ minutes only to be disappointed at the end?

Speakers attempt to do the same; create a presentation that will address all issues and all audiences in one fell swoop. If only life was so simple, and audiences were so receptive to multiple messages that are not particularly focused on their needs.


When working with my clients to prepare them for an important presentation/pitch, where I want them to start is not where they expect to start.

The questions I want them to answer first are:

  1. Who is your audience, and, in particular, who in that audience do you want to hear your message?
  2. The next thing we must focus on is how to end the talk. How will the audience members be better as a result of listening to you and taking your advice?

This presents an immediate problem as most people start preparing their presentations in one of the following ways;

They dig out a previous presentation and start tweaking.

Next, they exhaust themselves filling the body of the talk, then run out of energy and enthusiasm long before giving any thought to how the presentation should end.

I believe all talks must hold the attention of your listeners and point to a solution that will be beneficial to them.

One of  Stephen Covey’s seven habits of highly effective people is:


Great movies, great books, and great talks are a success because of the Director, Writer, Speaker knowing exactly how the film, book or talk is going to end, long before a camera rolls, a word is typed or slide created.

I believe all presentations must start with excitement and end in knowledge.


When your audience sees a clear benefit to them in what you suggest, your next step is a ‘call to action’ which now is much more likely to receive a favourable response.

A video conversation on how to be a great speaker

Aristo, from a Greek name, means “to be the best”.

Here is Andrew Keogh of Aristo talking to Don Harris of Talkback about how Aristo helps people to be the best in communicating, presenting and telling their business story.

Are you nervous of presenting? Perhaps you feel you could do better?

Watch this 8 minute video to pick up some great tips and to learn more about how Aristo can help you.

LESS IS MORE – Shorter, more effective presentations

Less is More

A couple of weeks ago I listened to the BBC Radio 4 interview with Dame Judy Dench, as part of their anniversary of 60 years of radio news.

Dame Judy spoke about what she had learned over her sixty years career.

She told a story of how she played Ophelia in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet in her early twenties.

Ophelia was mad, and Dame Judy, in her own words, explains how she over acted, throwing the ‘kitchen sink’ at the role to demonstrate Ophelia’s madness!

She now says some sixty years later she would play the role in a more measured way, and still get the message across of Ophelia’s madness.

Less is more according to Dame Judy Dench

Great actors are always reducing their script, as they realise they can with a gesture, look, or body movement, impart the message more effectively than words can.

Listening to this interview reminded me of how lots of my clients initially want to tell their audience everything about their organisation, in the hope that one of their messages will stick.

I am prompted, required even, to deliver the same message as Dame Judy

‘Less is More’ …

In sessions with Aristo we often start with 40+ slides for a 45-minute presentation (roughly a slide a minute) and finish with 8/10 slides – far more manageable and engaging for both speaker and audience.

The best presentations (in my view) have no slides, or very few.

I believe you cannot make more than three key messages in a presentation, and, ideally, I strongly suggest you only deliver one key message.

This message can be supported by facts, evidence, stories and examples – all helping to make the key message more memorable and more likely to stick in the mind of your audience.

Getting ready for your presentation …

When beginning your preparation, do not start with a previous slide deck. Always start afresh with some blank pages and write/sketch on each of the sheets the content of the slide, remembering that your audience came to listen to you, not look at your slides.

Watch and learn from the best in your organisation, or study speakers who you know have the ability to deliver an effective message.

Simon Sinek’s TED Talk ‘Start with WHY’ (35 m views) – has no slides. Just a flip chart, still the most effective and immediate communications tool for a presentation.

How do I prepare …

To prepare you need to answer these questions, being as specific as possible.

  • Who’s your audience:

Write down a person’s name, not an organisation.

  • Problem / Opportunity:

What is the problem/opportunity ‘story you wish to tell’, to engage this person?

  • Close …

How will this person be better after listening to you and taking your advice?

Create DESIRE in 3 easy stepsHere’s how you do that:

  1. Firstly, help the person to realise they lack what you can offer them.
  2. Get their agreement.
  3. Then paint a picture in words, so they can fully visualise the benefit of what you are offering.

e.g. “I see you talking to an audience of 500 in an entertaining and engaging presentation.”


If you or your company have trouble getting people to DESIRE your idea or products, talk to me. I can help you with that …

Messages from the Bourne Trilogy (Find Your Voice)








Recently, while on my way to speak to an audience of Bankers, I listened to a Desert Island Discs podcast with the movie director Paul Greengrass, Director of three Bourne Films, the 9/11 film United 93, Captain Philips and numerous other films.

He was inspiring and I took down two notes from what he said which I found very interesting. I went on to incorporate his ideas into my talk to my audience of Corporate and Treasury bank people.

The first note/idea I captured was –

“Drama can take you there in a way that facts cannot.”

By way of explanation, he was saying a good story/film addressing a serious issue is much more likely to make an impact, than some dry facts and statistics.

An example of this would be …

A radio interview with a family member, whose eighty year old mother was on a hospital trolley for 48 hours in A&E, is much more memorable than the hospital’s response that the time spent waiting on a bed is down by 1% this year.

Which comment is more likely to be discussed over coffee or at lunch break?

The other comment which I noted down was that at some point in his life (career) he had found –

  • His voice
  • His stories
  • His way

How lucky is he!

In this really interesting podcast he gives credit to some of the people who helped him to find his voice. Please click here and listen to the podcast if you want to be inspired, like I was.


If you need some help in finding your voice, or reconnect with your true voice, please get in touch.


Aristo – Connect 2 Grow explained …

Aristo gives people the confidence to connect.
Connect and build relationships.
Relationships build Trust.
Trust leads to growth in you and your business.

The EYES Have It!














Having spent a couple of hours walking around the National Gallery of Ireland, I found myself in the hall of portraits. This is a collection of paintings of famous Irish people, both living and dead, by famous Irish artists, also both living and dead.

My observation was that the paintings that connected with me and engaged with me were the ones that I felt the subject of the painting was watching me and looking straight back at me.

I was there as part of my commitment to give some time to art and creativity, one of the requirements when signing up to the Artist’s Way Program with my good friend Eve Earley.

My time in the gallery was both relaxing and stimulating, and got me thinking about the importance of eye contact in both our personal and public lives.

A wet fish handshake is not nice, but not looking at someone when having a conversation with them is a much bigger sin.

Let me tell you why you should look at people when having a conversation with them, be it one, five or hundred in your audience.

Eye contact says, I am interested in you and your ideas. Letting me know what’s important  and allowing a judgement to be made by  observing your body language, gestures, smile, frown, etc.

Most importantly when you take the focus off yourself and put the emphasis on your audience, it immediately reduces your stress levels and helps you to be a more effective communicator.

TIP:  Advice I always give to people I coach is, mingle with your audience 10 to 15 minutes before you are due to speak. Chat and have a coffee with 2/3 people, it will relax both you and them.  You can take this interaction to another level by mentioning them by name during your talk, e.g., “As John was saying earlier …”

For information on my next Presentation Skills Programme click here

You can choose to style yourself on Bob Dylan or Van Morrison and not engage with your audience or, as I would prefer, pay money to see Bruce Springsteen or Coldplay.

Most of us do not have the talent of any of these four artists, but we can engage with an audience, making the conversation more interesting for all parties concerned.

The purpose of a presentation or pitch is for your ideas to stick in the memory of your listener.

Recently, some minutes after six companies had pitched for investment, the adjudicators (me included) had completely forgotten 50% of the pitches; we could not even remember the companies’ names without prompting.

Make eye contact and this will improve your chances of being remembered.

P.S. This means no notes or very few!

My job is to help presenters’ ideas to stick/stand out so they will win sales and investment.

For information on my next Presentation Skills Programme click here

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