Pitch Perfect by Bill McGowan

By Billy Walsh

Do you want to know how to say anything, to anyone, in any form? Then Pitch Perfect is the perfect book to read. The book is written by a former television producer who offers his perspectives of how to be able to communicate any message, without insult or offense. This is the reason why his lessons are utilized by celebrities, politicians, and business executives.

McGowan’s lessons have become popularized by Fortune 500 companies and their sales forces. The book seems to be geared toward selling teams and designed to help them present their messages in a formulaic presentation meant to “land” with their intended audience and outline whatever value proposition or message they intend to deliver.

Beyond the rather obvious lessons of preparation and never ad-lib a pitch, the book outlines seven key lessons outlined as their cornerstones for effective communication. They are as follows:

  • The Headline Principle: The key lesson is to be concise and compelling. If you cannot summarize your key pitch or idea in this way you must reassess your message before continuing.
  • The Scorsese Principle: Use images and stories to illustrate your headline or key idea. Channel your best Hollywood director, like Martin Scorsese, in how they illustrate a story to make it compelling an entertaining.
  • The Pasta- Sauce Principle: To make you message rich, boil it down. Don’t worry about using too many words, think of the most efficient way to make your point or pitch.
  • The No-Tailgating Principle: The speed of your speech is in correlation to the certainty of the knowledge of the content.
  • The Conviction Principle: Ensure your physical message matches your verbal. Maintain good posture and eye contact. Even the most impactful message will be lost if your physical demeanor doesn’t match your message. You can’t say your excited and be monotone in your delivery.
  • The Curiosity Principle: Give your audience the impression that you are “in to” your message. They will only believe your message if you show that you are also fully committed to it.
  • The Draper Principle: Based upon the leading character of a popular television series, Don Draper, will always play to his strengths when pitching a new advertising campaign. If the topic is one that does not fit your key strengths, change the conversation. You need to be careful of how you change the conversation, but with careful practice you can move the discussion to an area where you can excel.

What the reader will appreciate is that these seven principles are presented with relatable stories of how to do it well, and some humorous examples of how to avoid the famous mistakes of others. The Draper Principle is one in particular that can be dangerous. It requires practice and finesse to avoid looking like a politician avoiding a question. The book spends a good amount of time discussing specific techniques.

The Scorsese Principle is also presented in great detail helping the reader learn how best to build a story to make it compelling and entertaining. It’s lessons of preparation make it clear that the most successful speakers are prepared for those moments that appear to be spontaneous. A business dinner or even an elevator ride is never truly spontaneous. Interpersonal communication is an important piece of forming relationships. A professional will always have a crafted and prepared topic, story, or message ready to be delved in the off chance they meet a potential client in a forum that was unexpected.

Social media today provides a great way for the professional to learn how to connect with a client through simple research than can be conducted in advance of your first meeting. However, here too, your communications must be planned and practiced. If you’re not careful you can leave your client with the impression that you were electronically stalking them. Not only will you not endear them as planned, you may leave them feeling that you violated them. Try to imagine being a coach and communicating with his team or a potential new player, you always want to leave a positive message so the player will play for you team. Also, plan on monitoring your social media accounts, as they may play a major role in your capabilities to bring in new clients that may run background checks on future employers. Any Web site that allows social interaction is considered a social media site, so you must be able to monitor how you communicate via the web.

I highly recommend “Pitch Perfect” to anyone who is looking to seek an edge against his or her competition, or someone just trying to learn better ways to communicate with their followers, employers, and in some cases, fans. The “Pitch Perfect” hard cover copy published by HarperCollins can be purchased for $20.96 on Amazon or at any book retailer near you!


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