The Pitch. You’ve been preparing for it for weeks and the day has finally come. It’s just you, your team, and the client, all together in a room that will most likely not be set to your preferred temperature. Thousands of dollars are on the line if not millions, or, if you’re a smaller agency, hundreds. You spent all day yesterday having the creative refined and rehearsing your delivery. You know what to do. Oh, but wait! Do you also know what not to do?
Here are ten things that I’ve learned over the years should not be done during a pitch. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t hear of another young adman making one of these rookie mistakes. Take these not-to-dos to heart and you’ll be years ahead of the competition.
FLIRT WITH CLIENT PERSONNEL: I know, I know, technically it’s not your company’s ink, but it’s still something of a no-no. So don’t go asking the gorgeous executive if she likes your dongle, okay buddy?
ACCIDENTALLY SLIP INTO AN LSD FLASHBACK: I haven’t actually come up with a foolproof solution for avoiding this unfortunate scenario. Maybe just tell yourself a few times on your way into the room not to have a flashback.
ACT OUT THE VOLLEYBALL SCENE FROM “TOP GUN”: Hey, we all love the movie, but the sport of volleyball is generally frowned upon in an office environment.
TELL THE CLIENT WHO YOU WERE IN A FORMER LIFE: I’m all for padding your résumé, but mentioning who you were in a former life to try to impress the client simply isn’t something you do during a pitch. Save that kind of information for when you and the client go golfing together.
TAKE A DRINK FROM YOUR FLASK WITHOUT OFFERING SOME TO THE CLIENT FIRST: I know how dehydrated you can get during a pitch, but decorum dictates that you let the client take the first pull on the happy juice.
MENTION YOU WERE ON AMC’S “THE PITCH” IF YOU TOTALLY GOT YOUR ASS KICKED: If the client brings it up, just play it off as though there is more than one agency with that name. “Yeah, that wasn’t us.”
TRY TO SPEAK THROUGH A STUFFED HOG LIKE YOU’RE A VENTRILOQUIST: I still make this mistake, to be honest. It’s just one of those things that sounds so right in your head but for some reason never seems to pan out when you do it live.
LIGHT CANDLES OR INCENSE: You never know what kind of allergies people might have, so try to refrain from all pyrotechnics.
BRING A RANDOM HOMELESS PERSON IN WITH YOU TO SHOW THE CLIENT YOU CARE: It’s a nice sentiment, but this isn’t the time for such heroics. Homeless people can be very unpredictable.
SOIL YOURSELF: For all I know it was our creative that was to blame for losing that pitch, and not my little episode. My intuition tells me though that it was probably the latter, so I’ve gone ahead and included soiling yourself in this list of things not to do during a pitch.