The Art of the Pitch by Peter Coughter: Summary and Notes

The art of the pitch

“the audience will not remember the vast majority of what you say. But they will remember what they thought about what you said. And what they felt about what you said. So help them. Leave moments in your narrative for the audience’s reflection.”

Rating: 7/10

Related Books: The Perfect Pitch, Flip the Script, Influence the Psychology of Persuasion, Contagious

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The Art of the Pitch by Peter Coughter: Short Summary

The Art of the Pitch by Peter Coughter will teach you how to pitch your ideas and get the results you want. In the book, Coughter shares his vast experience of making pitches and as the founder of an award-winning agency. The Art of the Pitch is a must-read for anyone looking to enhance their presentation skills.

Everything is a Presentation

When presenting, we are giving ourselves to the audience. They receive the product of our thoughts, efforts, and personality.

Everything you do in life can be regarded as a presentation. Meeting your partner’s family is a presentation, chatting with your friends is a presentation and even day-to-day interactions with others is can be considered a presentation.

The quality of your idea doesn’t matter if you cannot convince the person on the other side of the table to feel the same way.

Characteristics of a great presentation:

  1. It’s a conversation. Be yourself and regard it as any other conversation in your life
  2. Be authentic. Audiences want authenticity. Thus, don’t fear making mistakes
  3. Tell stories. Great presenters tell stories. Make your stories fun, make them human, make them conversational
  4. Know your stuff. By knowing their stuff, great presenters are able to concentrate on the reason they are there – the audience
  5. Relax and be reasonable. When presenting don’t be too hard on yourself, remember the audience is human too
  6. Teamwork counts. If team members are not cooperating, or don’t like each other, the audience will smell it a mile away
  7. Make it personal. Making it personal introduces credibility to a presentation. A presentation is a seduction, not a debate
  8. Know your audience. The more you know your audience, the better you have a chance to persuade them
  9. Show no fear. Get on with it and forget about nerves
  10. Rehearse. Don’t memorize, know your material
  11. Know why you are there. Everything that’s part of the presentation should foreshadow the conclusion

It Is Not About You

The presentation is about the audience and not you. Without the audience, there is nothing for you to do.

When presenting, put yourself in the audience’s seat and ask yourself:

  •  What do you like about presentations?
  •  What do you hate?
  • What sort of thing would you find interesting and entertaining?
  • What would you find boring?

Remove everything that is superfluous from your presentation. The audience will not remember what you said but what they thought and felt about what you said.

Give your audience enough space to reflect on what you’ve said. Let them fill the blank spaces. It is a powerful presentation technique.

Don’t talk to strangers. Take the time to know your audience. If you can, make the pitch about them in a personal way.

How to Connect

“55 percent of what we take away from communication comes from the visual, 38 percent from the tone of voice, and 7 percent from the actual words.”

Our tone establishes our attitude and the audience uses that attitude to decide what they think about us.

For example:

When we sound and feel confident, the audience will easily believe us and share in our confidence.

Your visual aids are powerful communicators and they need to be simple. Use discretion to eliminate the facts that are not critical.

Do not read the words on your slides. The audience can read just as well.

If you don’t connect, you don’t sell the work. And if you don’t sell, it doesn’t get produced.

The Power Of Emotion

 “Whatever the subject matter, there is a way to make it meaningful and relevant to our audience. There is a way to capture your audience’s imagination and persuade them to our point of view. That way is through the use of emotion.”

Human bonds are based on emotions. To create these bonds, we must be honest, open, and sincere.

The essence of selling is emotion. Nothing is sold on the rational analytical level. You got to make your audience feel something.

Great work has to be sold since the audience is unaware of why it is great. It is risky and unexpected. It is easier to sell mediocre work because it is already known by your customers.

For example:

In 2007, it was easier to sell a BlackBerry phone than a brand new technology like the iPhone. It required a great salesman like Steve Jobs to make customers excited about the new product.

The best way to convey emotion is to show the audience how to feel about the things you are talking about.

How To Be

Be yourself. Everyone else is taken. – Oscar Wilde

No one is as good as being you as you.

Scientists point out that nervousness and excitement are the same things. This means you can channel the nervousness to excitement.

Experiment with different presentation styles and choose the one that works for you.

The surest defense against stage fright is to know your stuff. Rehearse it as much as you can. If you are part of a team, know everybody’s stuff.

Presenters need to be good but not too good. Confidence can sometimes come out as arrogance. At the same time, don’t take yourself too seriously.

“Never appear to be anything but thoughtful. Thoughtfulness is one of the most important attributes we can possess. Particularly in new business and client meetings.”


the art of the pitch - authenticity

People believe us when we are authentic. They will do what we ask when we are authentic. When giving a presentation, don’t try to be someone else. It will cause you to behave in unnatural ways. People will not buy into what we are selling if we are not authentic.

Discover your core ideology. Have a set of beliefs that inform everything that you do.

“Until your business decides to get serious about who it is, and why it is, and what it believes in and stands for, and finally, how it expresses itself, you will continue to struggle in the middle of that great undifferentiated pack of sameness.”

Death By Deck

Seek simplicity in the visual as well as oral expression of your ideas.

Don’t rely too much on PowerPoint as a presentation tool.


You are the star. It is up to you to impress your audience.

Whenever you are faced with the choice between complex and simple, always go for simple.

Never lose sight of the big idea in any of your presentations and slides.

Organizing the Presentations

Begin organizing the presentation only after you’ve honed the main idea.

Layout your ideas in the form of a storyboard so that the ideas flow logically from one to the next.

After deciding on the ideas, design the visuals. Decide what each slide needs to look like. The visuals that you choose need to be consistent with the points that you are trying to make.

The final step is to write the voiceovers. The voice-over is what you are going to say when the visuals are presented. This is different from the writing of the presentation.

The ACTION format:

  • Attention. Begin your presentation with an attention-grabbing device of some kind
  • Capsule. Summarize your presentation into a few words or a catchphrase
  • Theme. Your presentation should have a theme that holds it together
  • Information. This is the stuff or the meat of the presentation
  • Open. Listen with your eyes and ears during presentations
  • Next steps. This is what you hope to accomplish after your presentation

Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse

Knowing the content of your presentation will cure very many ills.

“Presenting a smooth, entertaining, thoughtful discussion of your work is, in a way, a compliment to your client. Just as in a personal relationship, you cannot take the other party for granted.”

To be persuasive, you need to craft your argument skillfully.

Team rehearsal must be done using teamwork. Everyone must hear everyone else speak.


In a presentation, punctuation has to be there. Punctuation maximizes the understanding of our words.

Listening to someone for a few minutes without punctuation is difficult.

Pausing after each important sentence shows that we are confident. People tend to remember the last thing we said before we become silent.

Throughout your presentation, change the volume of your voice. Punctuate by going up and down in volume.

Other important factors:

  • Decide on the tone of voice that you are going to use in advance. Tone matters a lot when it comes to presenting
  • Use facial expressions and gestures to your advantage. Smiles are contagious
  • Ask questions. Questions are a great way to engage with the audience and break the monologue
  • Use movement to communicate your points. But only move with purpose. This communicates a sense of purpose and confidence
  • Make eye contact with your audience. Start each sentence by looking into someone’s eyes directly.  Switch to someone else after you are done with the thought