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The Art of the Pitch: Persuasion and Presentation Skills That Win Business (Inglês) Capa dura – 2 jan 2012
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Sobre o Autor
Peter Coughter is a Professor at the prestigious VCU Brandcenter at Virginia Commonwealth University and President of Coughter & Company whichconsults with leading advertising agencies around the world.His clients include: Crispin Porter + Bogusky, DDB, Cramer-Krasselt, Dentsu, GSD&M, Goodby Silverstein, JWT, Leo Burnett, Publicis, Y&R McKinney and many others. Peter was a Founder and President of Siddall, Matus & Coughter, one of the Southeast’s most respected agencies. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.
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According to the author, the elements of an effective presentation include:
* It's a conversation, only you're doing most of the talking.
* Be yourself: what audiences want is authenticity.
* Tell stories: we all love stories that grab our attention and hold it all the way to the end.
* Know your stuff: don't memorize the presentation, but know the underlying ideas thoroughly.
* Relax and be personable: it's the audience that really counts, so don't worry about yourself.
* Teamwork counts: in great presentations, teams present as if they really like one another.
* Make it personal: a level of intimacy builds credibility and makes a connection.
The book is written from the perspective of an advertising agency executive, but the principles described are applicable to the marketing of any professional services, or more broadly to any form of public speaking or private presentation. In accordance with his own advice, the author provides numerous engaging stories of business won through persuasive presentations, and the book includes brief insights from a number of experienced presenters.
Many of the key points are reinforced by being repeated several times in the book. There is detailed advice on how to organize a presentation, how to use PowerPoint-type slides if they are suitable for your type of presentation, the importance of extensive rehearsal, and the effective use of silence, volume, pitch, tone of voice, facial expressions and other forms of "punctuation". Anyone who wants to become a better presenter is likely to find some useful tips in this book.
As I read The Art of the Pitch, I truly felt that Coughter could have been sitting there having a conversation with me, which is not a feat that just any author, or presenter for that matter, can do. He applies the skills for effective presentations to writing his book, and that makes it all the more evident that he is extremely credible when it comes to mastering the art of presentations. After all, according to Coughter, “everything is a presentation,” so it only makes sense that he is able to take his own advice and apply it to the style of his book.
Think about that. “Everything is a presentation.” I believe that is arguably the most important concept in this book. Coughter begins by dedicating the entire first chapter to this concept, but he is able to intertwine it into each proceeding chapter thereafter, and in the final chapter, once again states, “Everything is a presentation, remember?” And although this book was targeted towards those who would be giving business presentations, I was able to take many of the concepts and apply them to my life as a student. There is something that nearly anyone can take from this book, and that is yet another reason why Coughter, in my opinion, excels at relating to whomever he may be addressing. By having the mentality that everything is a presentation, you can more effortlessly take the rest of those concepts in the book and apply them to whatever it may be that you wish to accomplish.
However, just the basic mentality that “everything is a presentation” is only going to get you about halfway to the finish line, so to speak. Throughout the book, Coughter also goes into details about every aspect of a presentation that one should look to perfect. From visuals to word choice to punctuation, he dissects every little piece that one should consider when preparing any kind of presentation for any kind of audience, whether it is a small meeting of two or three people or an entire lecture hall full of students. One of the most important points that stuck out to me was that you have to know the material you are presenting. This may seem trivial, but Coughter argues that one cannot simply memorize their presentation; they must know it. He argues that memorization hurts a presenter because, more often than not, that presenter is going to draw a blank at some point during the presentation. If and when this happens, he may skip over even more important parts, and this can affect not only the rest of the presentation, but also the authenticity of the work being presented. Audiences crave authenticity, and Coughter argues that memorization can put that in jeopardy. Coughter knows what his audiences want, and one of the ways to give that to them is by absolutely whole-heartedly knowing the material.
I believe another one of the main reasons Coughter has mastered the art of relating to audiences is because he himself acknowledges that he is a human being. He knows he has experiences people can relate to. He knows he can tell stories to make an emotional connection with others. He knows that the only way to truly connect with his audience is if he is his true self: not Peter Coughter the Presenter, but Peter Coughter the Person. Throughout the book, he argues that many presenters, no matter what level of experience they have, forget this one common fact and do not apply it to their presentations. This is why they are not able to sell their product or idea: because no matter how great an idea is, if you cannot relate to your audience, you are not going to sell the product.
I would, however, like to point out one improvement that Coughter could have made to his book. As I was reading, I noticed that the entire book was very repetitive. Some of those repetitions were meant to emphasize his point or revisit an idea brought up in a previous chapter, such as the topic of not memorizing your entire presentation. I understand the point of those repetitions, and Coughter did a wonderful job by bring them back up at the right times to make one idea relate to another. However, when staying on one topic, he spent a lot of time repeating his main point, whether it was just stating it another way or telling multiple stories about it when they were not all necessary. One prime example of this was in Chapter Four, when Coughter was discussing the power of emotion. He continues to emphasize the point that the only way to truly convey emotion to an audience is by telling the truth, and the only way to tell the truth is by being our true selves. It is a simple idea, and it was fascinating to hear his supporting stories and arguments for it. However, one personal experience and one story, in my opinion, would have been enough to convey the idea and move on. Instead, Coughter proceeded to use one personal experience and three different stories to portray virtually the same concept. Of course, this is just one example of the unnecessary repetition I am talking about, but it is evident throughout the book and it is something that I would personally have liked to see less of.
Nonetheless, Coughter still does a superb job at revolutionizing the way businessmen, or anyone for that matter, can give a presentation. I was not in the target audience for The Art of the Pitch, but I was still able to take lessons from this book and apply them to my life and studies. It is amazing that just by making simple changes when doing something as natural as talking people, such as changing your tone of voice or making eye contact, you can portray a level of confidence that you were not even aware you could reach in the first place. And so, I would recommend this book to virtually anyone who wants to work on not only their presentation skills, but their people skills as well. Because after all, “everything is a presentation.”
Coughter breaks down `the pitch' or presentations into several points: everything is a presentation, it's not about you, how to connect with the audience, the power of emotion, how you should be and act, the authenticity of your presentation, do not let the deck drag you down, how to organize the presentation, rehearse, and be punctual. A chapter is dedicated to each one of these, and he gives at least three examples for each one to reassure the reader that these pointers have been applied and worked.
The examples used are mostly anecdotal. He uses stories and quotes from well-known businessmen and women but tends to pull from his own life experiences. The one example mentioned on several occasions was when he was sent to Japan to teach non-English speaking executives how to improve their pitching skills. One of the times he used this example was when he was discussing white space on the visual slides during the presentation. He stated that he could only get his idea across to the Dentsu executives by relating it to Hara hachi bu which roughly translates to "eat until you are 80 percent full." One the Japanese executives understood this creative analogy and applied it, they improved their presentations. This type of story exemplifies the other examples he used throughout the book to explain and show his main points. His arguments and examples are fun and inspiring and he skillfully combines them with his vast amount of experience, easily persuading reader to believe his tips will be helpful to them as well.
The objective of this book is to extend the author's knowledge of making the perfect pitch to the reader with the hopes that they can take away at least one point he makes and apply it to their own lives. In my opinion, this book achieves this because it has inspired me to improve on my own pitching skills and I have been trying to apply his tips to my presentations since I read this book.
While this book is focused on pitching business ideas, the content is also broad enough for it to be relevant to students and employees in almost every field because a majority of students and workers have to make a presentation at some point in their lives. While reading the book I found that I should improve my skills at presenting because I was making many of the mistakes he was telling the reader to avoid. Looking back at my education I realized that I was never exactly taught how to make and present a successful presentation, which is a crucial skill throughout schooling and in the real world. Most of my peers have the same issue, sometimes even more so. I have sat through countless presentations where the visuals are PowerPoints filled to their edges with words and my classmates stand there reading the slides to the class. Afterwards they cannot seem to understand why the professor has graded them so poorly. I believe having students read or a professor teach the ideas in Art of the Pitch would greatly benefit the students because learning to present well is one of the most forgotten about life skills. Schooling is about preparing students for their future, and when pitching ideas is just as important as the ideas themselves, it is important to teach them that skill as well instead of glazing over it.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed reading this engaging book and I'm glad that I chose to read it. As I mentioned, I recommend it to students, but also to anyone who has to make any sort of presentation because it is inspiring and it contains the right tips and approach to help you succeed in your next pitch or interview.
Coughter effectively supports his arguments throughout the book, using stories from friends and colleagues of his to demonstrate the power of his arguments in practice. For example, on page 120 Coughter puts in a story from Alex Bogusky, former chief creative officer and co-founder of CP+B, who talks about a presentation he had to give where his people loaded the wrong tape for the presentation. Instead of panicking and freezing on stage, Bogusky turned this around into a positive and was open with his audience, saying that the tape they saw was not the correct one. He then acted out the correct tape on his own and connected with the audience even more because of how real the presentation had become and how he was honest and authentic with them. Coughter includes this story because it shows the power of being an authentic, original individual in presentations and it shows how far the ability to adapt to the unexpected can go. In addition to these borrowed anecdotes, Coughter put in a set of statistics about what people take away from presentations. These statistics came from a study by Professor Albert Mehrabian in the 1960s, which “suggested that 55 percent of what we take away from communication comes from the visual, 38 percent from the tone of voice, and 7 percent from the actual words,” (Coughter 52). Coughter decided to put in these results because they show that presentations should be given passionately and enthusiastically so the audience remembers feeling excited during the presentation so if they don’t remember some important content, they at least remember how the content made them feel. These two examples show the types of support that Coughter gave his readers to prove to them his ideas are effective.
In addition to supporting his arguments through anecdotes from successful others and statistics, Coughter includes stories of himself and his own students who put his teachings to work and got real results in order to show the success of his methods. One example he used was of a group of DC clients who gave Coughter and his partners a chance to win their business. These clients did not want to work with anyone based outside of Washington DC, Coughter’s agency, which was based in Richmond, was already at a disadvantage. However, Coughter learned everything he could about these clients and themed his presentation in a way that would keep them interested and involved. Coughter claims, “It all happened because we thought to ask, ‘Please tell us everything you can about these people,’” which allowed them to get to know their audience before they created the presentation.
Another example that Coughter writes about is a group of students he taught who were told to present the same campaign to two different boards, in different ways. The first board was shown the campaign without any excitement or effort in presentation, and they dismissed it without any interest. When the students showed the second board their campaign, they presented it with enthusiasm and conviction. The second board members loved the campaign, which was the exact same campaign the other board did not care for. Coughter uses this story to show how important communicating excitement for a campaign is when trying to sell the idea.
Coughter is very successful with his arguments and teachings in The Art of the Pitch. It was interesting how he wrote the book in such a way that sounded as if he was giving a presentation to the reader, rather than actually reading a book. This style made the entire book support for Coughter’s arguments about how to become a better presenter by putting all of his ideas into practice in the writing of his book. Coughter’s writing also made the book very interactive, relatable, and enjoyable through his humor and anecdotes. Overall, Coughter succeeded in selling his point of view and communicating that view to the reader while teaching them about how to improve their ability to give presentations.
The examples of what makes an effective presenter, communicator, and influencer extend beyond the business world. Coughter draws on experiences from his own presentations as well as experiences from peers to deliver actionable insights for how to become a better communicator (and presenter).
Working in an industry where giving presentations to CEOs and other high-level personnel is a daily occurrence, this book has given tremendous value to the way I approach presentations. While there are numerous pieces of advice that were new to me, this also helped reinforce some of the basic principles I've relied upon in the past.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in improving their communication skills, regardless of their industry (of course, being in the world of marketing makes the author's past experiences that much more engaging and relatable).
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