Book Reviews


The Power of the Pitch: Transform Yourself into a Persuasive Presenter and Win More Business

Author: Gary Hankins
Publisher Dearborn Trade Publishing
Publication Date: January 2005

Reviewer:Andy Marken
In his nearly 25 years in the advertising/public relations field, Andy has been involved with a broad range of corporate and marketing activities. Prior to forming Marken Communications in mid-1977, Andy was vice president of Bozell & Jacobs and its predecessor agencies. During his 12 years with these agencies, he developed and coordinated a wide variety of highly visible and successful promotional campaigns and activities for clients. A graduate of Iowa State University, Andy received his Bachelor's Degree with majors in Radio & Television and Journalism. Widely published in the industry and trade press, he is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

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Let us warn you at the outset. You donít simply The Power of the Pitch or Transform Yourself into a More Persuasive Presenter and Win More Business. Itís a book that you have to read, digest and then read a second or third time. Actually we read it once; skip read it a second time and worked with some of our staff using it as a study guide and workbook.

Whether youíre inside a company doing PR or a consultant, you make presentations. The objective always is to get people to buy into your idea, your concept, your program. At the end of the meeting you want people walking out of the meeting agreeing with you whether it is to undertake a new PR direction or to have you be appointed their PR counsel.

Gary Hankins has an impressive background of making pitches himself and in assisting others. With more than 30 years of sales, media and professional experience; he gives very sage advice on how to walk out of the meeting with the business in your hands.

We never really thought about it before but he is correct that we (and professional sales people) spend all of their time prospecting and preparing business proposals that are ďguaranteedĒ to win the business. However, the presentation us usually the last minute, throw the pieces together effort. Itís ironic once you think about it in those terms because the visual/verbal presentation is where you get people to agree with you and actually win the business.

The guidelines that Hankins provides work as well for new business presentations as they do in helping your staff members prepare their conference and convention presentations.

In clear, understandable terms you can put to immediate use, he spells out the vital steps you have to undertake before and after the presentation. Sandwiched in between that he provides you with specific guidelines on how to organize your presentation for maximum impact.

Hankin does an excellent job of giving you clear, concise examples of presentation techniques and specifics. The examples can be immediately put to use.

The author doesnít talk down to you in this book but he starts you out with the basics and we mean the very basics (many of which youíll think are obvious until you analyze your past presentations with brutal honesty). Donít skip the first chapters including those on how to package yourself, your voice and nonverbal signals you send out during the presentation. Going back to the basics start you out with the right foundation and can probably help you unlearn some bad habits that have crept into your presentations.

In addition to spelling out the five mistakes most of us make in a new business presentation, Hankin takes you step by step through the anatomy of a winning new business presentation. But the tools go far beyond getting the business or losing it. The book is extremely useful in putting together a wide range of business presentations.

This is a very current analysis of your presentation opportunities 1:1, conference/convention and even web based meetings. Once youíve read, digested and implemented Hankinsí presentation guidelines a few times youíll come to understand and appreciate that making a presentation can be fun and rewarding.

We have already used the points he discusses in helping clients prepare conference and seminar presentations that were only designed to ďsellĒ them as an expert in the field. The guidelines have also been extremely helpful in our development of new product presentations when we have taken clients on editorial tour roadshows.

After 30 years in the PR business and working with many members of the press for a long time, it is too easy to think of them as friends and business associates you donít have to pitch. But after going through The Power of the Pitch for the third time we came to realize that to be really successful, every presentation had to be addressed as though you had to win new business.

Then it becomes fun because what you want to do is have your audience even your editorial audience agree with the points you are making. You really want them to come to the conclusion that what you are presenting is something they want to participate in and support.

At the end of the day what you want to have happen is that everyone (prospects, present clients, editors and audiences) to agree with you.

The most difficult part of the book? Trying to figure out how he came to name is company Pygmalion Inc The Greek king who created a statue and then fell in love with it. For awhile we thought it was because people work so hard on a presentation they fall in love with it and forget itís not real. However for Pygmalion, Aphrodite brought the statue to life for him. Maybe Hankins is our Aphrodite because after reading The Power of the Pitch we believe he will have given you the tools to bring your presentation (your work of art) to life.

We didnít feel like a Greek god after our three readings of the book but we were able to significantly improve our presentation skills and more importantly weíve been able to help clients improve their presentation skills.

Donít think about simply using The Power of the Pitch in new business situations. Use the information Hankins provides in all of your presentations because after all, you do want to win every time! Donít you?