Category Archives: Topical

THE VERY BRIEF GETTYSBURG ADDRESS.

This is the 150th  anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, arguably the most important speech in American history. It is rightly eulogised and numerous writers have examined and extolled its many virtues. One of these is Sam Leith in his entertaining book on rhetoric, “YOU TALKIN’ TO ME?”

gettysburg 2Many of Abraham Lincoln’s skills are not easily acquired or applied in the average business pitch apart from two, both highly practical.

The first is to keep it short.

Lincoln spoke for a little over two minutes, his speech 272 words.

In 1863 people expected lengthy speeches. The speaker, Edward Everett, who preceded him spoke for over two hours .Lincoln defied the protocol of the day, he wanted to make an impact and his words to be listened to. Being brief was a strategy.

Most business pitches if the prospect has allocated, say, 40 minutes take 40 (or probably over-run) minutes, cramming in as much content as they can.  Few take a strategic decision to pitch in half the time, to be more explosive, more surprising and more rewarding for the audience.

Few heed  Shakespeare: “Where words are scarce, they are seldom in vain.” (Richard II )

gETTYSBURG 3The other practical lesson was the trouble he took to check out the venue, for this two minute ‘pitch’.

“The care with which he was thinking in advance is evidenced by the fact that a few days before, he asked the man who landscaped the cemetery to bring him the plans, so he could familiarise himself with the layout of where he’d be speaking.” (Sam Leith)

 

 

LESSONS FROM THE ALL BLACKS.

“There is no such thing as perfection” said Steve Hansen, coach of the All Blacks, the ‘best sports team in the world’. “But that doesn’t mean you stop striving for it.”

steve hansenIn an interview in the Guardian he went on to say: “Our aim as a group of players, coaches and managers, right down to our baggage man, is just to want to be better than we were the week before.”

These deceptively simple words capture what most might aspire to in their own work related performances and they should be the aim in pitching. Continue reading

HOW TO PITCH AN IDEA, GRAYSON PERRY STYLE

grayson 1One of the communication highlights of last week was the Reith Lecture by Grayson Perry. While he is known for his genius as an artist and his talents as a communicator, the august Lecture is different, potentially outside his comfort zone. Not so. From the Sunday Times:

” His lecture, Democracy has Bad Taste, was a deft, humorous and scholarly taking-apart of the art-world elite who determine ” good taste”. It more than filled the Reithian aspiration to educate and inform and entertain. One reviewer defied anyone to listen “and not be be entertained or illuminated or provoked” Continue reading

CAMERON, MASTER OF GESTURE POLITICS

The dictionary definition for gesture politics reads: “Any action by a person or organisation done for political reason and intended to attract public attention but having little real effect”. A recent example was the high profile use of Home Office Vans telling illegal immigrants to GO HOME!

cameron hands 2David Cameron is no more guilty of gesture politics than the rest of them- Milliband, Clegg, Osborne, Balls-it’s a staple of political life.

Where he is the master  is in his powerful, practised use of gesture when speaking. Continue reading

PITCHING TO ALAN SUGAR. CAUSTIC JIBES ‘PUT OFF’ ASPIRING TYCOONS.

Alan sugar 2The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den never were about pitching and a recent YouGov poll, reported in  the Sunday Times today puts their ‘value’ to business practice in doubt.

It suggests 88% of small-business leaders believe contestants’ behaviour on The Apprentice puts off aspiring entrepreneurs.

“The programme’s producers seem to be deliberately portraying young entrepreneurs as greedy, self-regarding and frankly a bit dim-witted” Continue reading