Suneel Gupta Discusses How To Give A Pitch

On February 25, 2011, in Business School, by Jeremy C Wilson

Have you ever had to pitch an idea to an audience but weren’t quite sure how to deliver the message? Well, what if I told you that no matter what you said, people forget 99% of it? How would that impact your pitch? What specific words would you say? And what words would you decide to change?  Giving a pitch in front of an audience is a hard task. Fortunately, in a recent talk in my media management class, Suneel Gupta and Leena Rao provided a few tips on how to make a strong pitch and get people to remember.

Just yesterday, Suneel and Leena came to one of my classes at Kellogg to give us a few ideas on how to make a pitch to an audience. The class is Understanding Media and Content, and the reason they came is because we have a final project where we have to pitch an idea to help solve a current problem for an existing media company.  As former Kellogg (Suneel) and Medill (Leena) students respectively, both Suneel and Leena once took this class a few years ago and had to think about the same project. So they put together a presentation and gave us tips on how to be successful.

The first tip they gave was to identify the problem. That not only means telling the audience what the issue is but also connecting them to that problem.  They used an example video that discussed managing your finances, and the speaker got to the heart of the issue very quickly by talking about a problem that resonated with all of us very closely. The second tip they gave was “Show me.” “Show me” means showing the audience what you’re talking about. While descriptions can often be powerful, the idea was showing the audience with a live demonstration can be very powerful, especially if the subject matter was technical in nature. The third tip was to simplify. That the best messages are often simple rather than complex, and that they tend to draw on things that people already know. Which leads me to the final point; anchor the audience in what they know.

After sharing these tips with us, a few teams were selected at random to practice giving their pitches. One of those teams was my team, and we pitched the idea of bringing Barnes & Noble to the digital world. I took the lead for my team and spent most of my time focusing more on the story to engage the audiences attention.

In the end, not only was it a good way to hep improve our final projects but it was also good lesson in making pitches, which I suspect many of us will do a lot of upon graduation. Thanks Suneel and Leena!


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