Top 10 Tips for Making a Pitch

Everyone makes sales pitches. If you're an independent planner dealing with a client or an in-house planner trying to convince your boss or your board that a destination is perfect for your event, you'll need to acquire the skills typically associated with a sales pitch. These 10 tips will teach you how to present your case in a manner that will get your ideas accepted by the people who are central to your meeting success.

1. Do your homework.

Know the stakeholders and what they need and want. The more you know about the person or company you're talking to, the easier it will be to get your idea across.

2. Practice your pitch.

Shooting from the hip doesn't work in today's business environment. Rehearse with one of your teammates, your spouse, or in front of a mirror. The point is for you to get comfortable with talking about your idea.

3. Stick to the high points.

Don't try to cover all the bases in the first meeting. Your job is to generate excitement. Let your idea inspire the person you're talking to. If you see them looking around the room or at their watch, you've over-stayed your welcome.

Incorporate their ideas.

4. Keep an open mind.

If the person you are presenting to has some additional ideas, listen to them and do everything you can to combine them with your own. This will motivate the other person to buy into your proposal.

5. Don't get defensive if they say "no."

Remember that tomorrow is another day, and many times people will change their minds after sleeping on it. I suggest that you don't ask for immediate acceptance of your idea. Tell them to call you the next day after they've had a chance to mull it over.

6. Don't make promises you can't keep.

If you don't have the resources, the product, or the permission to do what you say—don't offer it. The quickest way to ruin your chances of moving forward with your idea (or your career) is to be branded as a fabricator.

7. Sell yourself before selling your proposal.

If someone likes you, he will be open to what it is you have. Do not underestimate the importance of being easy to work with, trustworthy, and smart. These are the qualities that higher-ups look for.

8. Don't deliver your pitch in your office or at lunch.

Asking someone to come to your office says you don't value her time. Having a meeting at lunch creates the possibility of your idea getting lost because there are too many distractions. If you are pitching to a large group, make sure that the room is not so big that you have to raise your voice to be heard in the back of the room.

9. Be passionate about your position.

The person you are talking to is always on the hunt for new ideas and the people to pull them off. If you are selling an idea, you are also selling the fact that you are capable of bringing it to fruition. If you can inspire the person you're talking to (through your own enthusiasm), the chances of getting your idea accepted improves greatly.

10. Be nice to everyone, not just the people you are trying to influence.

Any of the assistants you come in contact with could be the boss next year, so remember to be considerate to all. Even if things don't work out this time, you want to have another shot in the future.

By following the tips above, you will be able to not only sell your ideas to those in charge, but you will be selling yourself as well.

Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is a speaker, business consultant, syndicated author, and radio talk-show host. He presents to numerous companies, associations, and leaders worldwide. He can be contacted