The 90-second pitch

90 second pitch “That depends on the length of the speech. If it is a ten-minute speech it takes me all of two weeks to prepare it; if it is a half-hour speech it takes me a week; if I can talk as long as I want to it requires no preparation at all.

I am ready now.”  

Woodrow Wilson 1918

I received an email asking if I would do our marketing department a favour – they asked me to say a few words at our largest trade show, held annually in Chicago Illinois.  I expected that I would do a best practise story with colleagues, BUT it got really interesting when the VP of Marketing sent follow-up messages about the group rehearsal (a rehearsal?) and the 90-second pitch concept.

I was to represent ‘my’ product line at the company pre-congress meeting to hundreds of sales and marketing colleagues from around the world.  The material I was asked to cover in the “90-second pitch” could easily take 30 minutes in a typical presentation, but the goal of this pre-congress program was to have multiple product lines “pitch” what was latest and greatest.  There were 8 product lines represented, and we each had 90-seconds.

As President Wilson stated, and many speakers before and after him know, it takes a LOT of time to condense content down to its core message.  For this opportunity it took two days for me to boil down my material to meet the 90-second target. It was one of my biggest presentation challenges so far. In the end it went well and I got some great comments from my colleagues in the days after the pitch.

Rehearsing numerous times was one of the keys to being able to get my message across in the 90-seconds (I think was closer to 120). And yes I did rehearse with a stop watch.

The message of my pitch was that our customers are not really interested in our marketing clichés, our leading edge, state of the art, paradigm shifting, best of breed, revolutionary technologies.  They were interested in how our technologies get them the results they are looking for.

So to get the best results from a presentation try boiling down your pitch, your idea, into 90-seconds. It will take awhile but it focuses you on what’s important. And you can leave out the marketing clichés – the leading edge, state of the art, paradigm shifting, best of breed, revolutionary things and talk about the important message you want your audience to leave the room with.

Joe Pops

Refuse to be boring


Want to make a video? Why not use PowerPoint?

PowerPoint has a variety of applications. In addition to designing slides for presentations I have used it to make promotional posters and to design logos and buttons for the animal welfare groups that I am involved with (see Life by PowerPoint). I have also started creating videos.  You can insert music to link to your slides (for the  examples below I used music from  For me, the biggest challanges in making videos with Powerpoint are telling my story in just a couple of minutes (I recommend you keep you videos to 2-3 minutes), and having the music timed just right.

Re timing: using the Transitions tab you can select the transition you want and how long you want the slide to viewed.  I find that somewhere between 3-8 seconds works best, depending on what is on the slide. Once your slide show is running to the music you can convert it to a video format. In PowerPoint 2010 go to File – Save & Send – Create Video.

Here are 2 examples.


Joe Pops

Refuse to be boring

How to make your next presentation more persuasive.

You may be able to convince someone that you have the best idea, product, or service, but can you persuade them to take action on your proposal?  Quotations are one type of persuasive tool that can help move people to take action. But is there really a difference between being convincing and being persuasive? According to Seth Godin, marketing
and business thought leader, Persuasion appeals to the emotions and to fear and to the imagination. Convincing requires a spreadsheet or some other rational device.”

I have found the best presentations have the right mix of convincing and persuasive elements. That mix depends on your topic and, of course, your audience. There are 4 tools you can use to enhance the persuasive aspect of your
presentations, these include quotations, examples, stories and images.

The right quotations can be powerfully persuasive tools because they allow you to inject more emotion into your presentation, and it is through emotion that we connect as human beings. As Helen Keller said “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”

Quotations are also a powerful persuasive tool because they add external validation to your idea/proposal and enhance your credibility; you are adding confirmation from an external expert or leader. It may be better to find quotations from people your audience knows and respects, but this is not always necessary. For example, I didn’t know who Joseph Roux (above) was, but his quotation resonated with me.

You can present your quotations in different ways, ie some words on a slide or through the spoken word. I usually read the quote to the audience, this way I can add emotion in how I say the words. For a quotation to be memorable it is helpful to keep it as short as possible.

Good quotations can be found in many places – podcasts, white papers, books, and conversations but interestingly I find quotation websites less helpful.  This quotation by Seth Godin came from one of his TED presentations “We are living in a century of idea diffusion: people who can spread ideas…win.”

A great presentation moves your idea or project or sale forward. Use quotations strategically to be more persuasive.

They can help you win.

Joe Pops

Refuse to be boring