How to ace the art and science of pitch narration

Clients are sold on the enthusiasm and confidence of the team that wants to make ideas reality. If you don’t believe your idea is amazing, no one else in the room will, writes Pearl Alex of Talented.

By  Storyboard18May 17, 2024 9:42 AM
How to ace the art and science of pitch narration
Pearl Alex of Talented writes, "I was seven and rehearsing for a music exam. My teacher asked me whether I was nervous. I said yes. She said, “that only means you haven’t practiced enough.” She was brutal, and correct. Lack of practice makes you fumble on stage, and that’s what you’re really afraid of. If you’re sure of your routine, what’s to fear?" (Image source: Unsplash)

Life is too short for two things - boring ads and boring meetings!

So, imagine my disdain for boring meetings about ads. Ironically, the ad industry has one kind of meeting the creatives can steer away from boredom - pitches. For our latest work for MakeMyTrip, PG Aditiya and I took to LinkedIn to share a video excerpt of us narrating (and pitching) scripts (the idea) to the client. We shared how our work travels from script to screen, but we didn’t realise it started a conversation about the art and science of pitching ideas. I had messages from a lot of people asking for more such tips, so here are some thumb rules I like to follow:

DO believe your idea is amazing

A myth this industry has busted - good ideas sell themselves. Clients are sold on the enthusiasm and confidence of the team that wants to make ideas reality. If you don’t believe your idea is amazing, no one else in the room will.

When I believe we have a great concept, I’m no longer selling it, I’m sharing it. The difference? Recall a time that you shared juicy gossip or a hilarious story with friends. You know all the details, but you carefully choose how to reveal the story for that big payoff, making sure you hold their attention and keep them engaged. Sharing a good idea should feel like that.

DON’T think the meeting begins at the meeting

Before a pitch, agencies do a ‘dry run’, but creatives should also practice alone, presenting aloud and using mirrors. The dry run tests nerves before an audience. I arrive early for in-person meetings, just to do lip trills and power poses in the office washroom before walking into the boardroom. Find your pre-pitch routine.

DON’T believe stage fright

I was seven and rehearsing for a music exam. My teacher asked me whether I was nervous. I said yes. She said, “that only means you haven’t practiced enough.” She was brutal, and correct. Lack of practice makes you fumble on stage, and that’s what you’re really afraid of. If you’re sure of your routine, what’s to fear? Consider hobbies like stand-up comedy, spoken word, music, or toastmasters that force you to face audiences regularly.

DO be empathetic to your listeners

As a musician, I sometimes face audiences who would rather do what they came to an event to do - eat, chat, drink, and not pause to appreciate someone paid to be background noise. It’s taught me to genuinely value a listener’s attention. I don’t view my clients as an audience to an agency pitch, but as an audience to an artist. And artists want to leave their audience entertained, provoked, moved. P G Aditiya is also fantastic at reading a room. He uses wit and small talk to start meetings on a high, but also puts audiences at ease.

DO consider theatrics

Commit to the bit. Voice modulations and facial expressions aside, consider props and gimmicks. For a pitch with music and lyrics, I practice until I can sing or rap the song myself at the meeting. While pitching to a matrimonial client, our team showed up at the client office in wedding attire and brought mithai to end the meeting on a sweet note. For a pitch to a delivery giant, one of our creatives dressed up as a delivery exec with branded packaging. The point? Don’t be in-genuine about your theatrics. Don’t do it for the sake of doing it. Do it because you think it’s the best way to present an idea and do it proudly.

There is no right way. There is YOUR way

PG and I are more extroverted presenters, so there’s obviously more ways to prepare and present a pitch. Taking examples from my colleagues, Teresa Sebastian and Aabhaas Shreshtha who are introverted art maestros who don’t use frills and theatrics. Instead, their presentations reflect thoughtful professionalism, rich with details behind each creative choice. Sanket Audhi prepares talking points beyond the deck for strategic interjections. If theatrics is not your style, follow Pooja Manek's lead. Her impeccable decks and expert understanding of client objectives allow for on-the-fly improvisation. Everyone involved should be able to articulate the big-picture objective without relying solely on slides. Binaifer Dulani exemplifies this, weaving emotional narratives with strategic thinking.

At Talented, we talk about doing what we can to make the idea proud. While putting in the work to achieve this, we can forget our jobs are fun. If you catch yourself wishing you were in the room when it happened, remember that every opportunity to pitch an idea is the room, and you have the power to make it happen.

Pearl Alex is a part of the creative team at Talented.

First Published on May 17, 2024 8:55 AM

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