How To Make a Great Pitch

Let’s be clear, most presentations are boring. And an audience can mentally leave the room in 90 seconds or less. But there is hope. There’s power in the words if you know how to pitch properly. Let’s face it, people like a good pitch.

by Murray Johannsen.  Mr. Johannsen also routinely does Live Presentations for corporations and associations. Feel to connect via Linkedin, or by email

We don’t know what the speaker (Patrick Henry) said, but we can see audience impact. All great speeches hold the audience’s attention.

Learn How To Make a Great Pitch

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4 Classic Techniques To Deliver a Great Speech

1: Study Your Craft

This image was provided by the German Federal Archive. Hitler, Adolf: Reichskanzler, Deutschland

The delivery is as important as the visuals—most say, more important. Speakers need to understand the nature of verbal and nonverbal messages associated with a charismatic delivery and that passion creates excitement in the audience.

There is an art to getting people’s attention and holding it, as this presenter at the Speakers Corner in London’s Hyde Park understands.

If you are an entrepreneur pitching to investors, you have to present a coherent business case, get liked, be credible, build enthusiasm, be persuasive and radiate trust and integrity in 15 minutes or less. The third element of great presentations is modeling.

2. Model Great Presentations

Communication theory is relatively sterile if one doesn’t make use of another technique—modeling. You must study persuasive presentations—both modern and classic. Great presenters model other great presenters.

In the early days, I would model others at Toastmasters but soon discovered that really great presenters were cross-town at the local chapter of the National Speaker’s Association. I used to stand in the back of the room presentation, imitating exactly what the presenters were doing, and I believe I embedded some of their skills in myself.

One of my favorite sayings goes, “Monkey See, Monkey Do.” This was said by an expert in the field—my Mom. Unfortunately, well-educated individuals who have to spend hundreds or thousands of hours in the library getting degrees, have forgotten the value of observational learning. In psychology, this is called vicarious learning.

We employ this as a useful tool in the learning process but there is one more element, getting feedback.

3. Get Feedback From Experts

It’s important to ask someone who knows: What you are doing right What you are doing wrong.

If there is one common flaw we see in presentations, it’s not getting enough feedback Sure, if you have been doing it for 20 years, you probably don’t need that much. Why do pro players still have coaches? Why do presidential candidates still have professionals who teach them and coach them how to debate? And why do you need feedback on that presentation?

It’s because, at some point, you fall in life with your work, you cannot see the flaws anymore, it looks perfect, Truly it is a work of beauty, but only in your eyes. So be sure to ask for and receive feedback from professionals. We can always ask Mom, but we can predict what she’ll say.

We fear critiques. Actually, these are your best friends, since they point out what is wrong, which is something your best friend won’t do. 

4. Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

Jean Lecomte du Nouÿ (1842-1923) Demosthenes Practicing Oratory

So, get on track, don’t get derailed. If you have never had studied platform skills, we recommend that you do so to:

  • You’ll better understand content
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  • Access to well crafted speeches, and
  • See top-notch presentations


If the pitch is well along, call on one of our professionals who can advise you on what works well and what can work better.

The importance of a good persuasive presentation cannot be overestimated. In fact, stellar presentations are one of the six communications skills great leaders possess. Once you have lost the audience’s attention, once they conclude you’re boring, once they’ve decided you are wasting their time it’s very hard to get them back on your side again.

The old saying, “don’t bother to shut the barn door after the horses are already out” applies here.

Two Types of Boring Presentations

George Caleb Bingham (1811–1879 Stump Speaking

Despite the importance of a good persuasive presentation, most people do their best to imitate two standard kiss of death presentations:

  • A professor’s lecture, and
  • its equally dull and drab cousin, the business presentation.

I don’t’ know why we see so many boring professors, you’d like it a requirement along with a Ph. D., And we see too many mind-numbing business presentations. Presenters are stuck behind a podium and the laptop, which functions like a child’s security blanket.

I have been privileged to sit in on many different types of presentations entrepreneurs make to investors. It’s a bit like Shark Tank with PowerPoints. These are entrepreneurs asking investors to pony up hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.

You’d be amazed how many times I saw investors lose interest in the so-called “persuasive presentation” or “The Pitch.” Sometimes. you’d see a pained look on the face or glancing at the watch; and of course, pulling out the Blackberry, iPhone, or Android to check e-mails.

Unfortunately, since persuasive presentations are not at all common, this creates an opportunity for those who are good at it.

Let’s face it, people like a good pitch. They want to hear a good story and when you give it to them, they respond. Let’s overview the major elements of how to put together a great pitch, a persuasive presentation. The first important element is content.

Content Elements

Let’s overview the major elements of how to put together a great pitch, a persuasive presentation. The first important element is content.

The US Declaration of Independence
The US Declaration of Independence

Meaning is important, not just the meaning embedded in the visuals, but in the words as well. When it comes to learning a “pitch perfect”, persuasive presentation skills, one first needs to understand that not only is every slide a story, but there is a structure to a persuasive pitch as well.

I remember a program by Brian Tracy, who is a very well-known speaker on sales. In one of his programs he made an observation that always stuck, when he said, “Many people fail because they fail to pay attention to the basics.”

Same with a persuasive presentation, one has to understand the basics of content and structure before one can work up the food chain. The second element is delivery.

First Published: March 9, 2014. Last update November 5, 2022.

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