How to Make a Pitch: What NOT To Do

You’ve spent weeks preparing a pitch for your amazing novel or tv show, but you’re not sure what to say when it comes time to make the case. Here are some guidelines on how NOT to sell yourself and your work.
Topic: In Search Of The Perfect Workplace
Category: Career Development
Introduction: What do people mean when they talk about “the perfect workplace?” We asked experts from major companies like IBM and Facebook, what makes them different so we can find our own fit in an increasingly competitive climate.

The “how to make a pitch example” is a story of how not to do something. The author, who is pitching a product, has made several mistakes that have turned the audience off.

Vintage businessmen at conference table for meeting.

You’ve finally met with the folks who can help you make your goal a reality. You can’t wait to step into that room and pitch your concept to them. You’ve gone through the first half of this two-part course, which covered the nuts and bolts of pitching, and you’re feeling fairly confident.

Awesome. But here’s one of the most crucial points to remember: the buyer isn’t seeking to say yes. They’re hoping to get a negative response.

This is difficult for the vendor to comprehend. You get the impression that the customer is simply waiting to hear your game-changing concept. You’re a single man with a single concept that you’ve been working on for years. It’s all you’ve been thinking about.

Every year, the buyer sees dozens, hundreds, and perhaps thousands of men exactly like you. You’re as common as hen’s teeth. Saying no is the simplest choice for them. Saying yes entails taking a risk with their money and reputation, as well as time, effort, and responsibility. Saying no makes their lives easier and allows them to get on with their day. Buyers are seeking for any excuse to reject your offer.

Due to the large quantity of pitches they get, all buyers create systems for categorizing sellers into yes or no groups. Even if your train is running well, if you raise a deal-breaker red flag, they’ll flip the switch and place you on the no track. These red flags may be little details, but they’ve undoubtedly discovered that 8 out of 10 persons who display those characteristics are a pain to deal with. They aren’t prepared to take the chance that you are one of the two exceptions to the norm.

Buyers’ deal breakers aren’t fair, to be sure. You may have a brilliant idea, but you’re having a bad day and so blow the pitch. Buyers, on the other hand, can’t pay each pitch the same amount of attention, therefore they must design a sorting method.

Even if buyers’ deal breakers aren’t fair, they’re fortunately rather simple to avoid. Here are 15 pitching blunders to avoid, based on Stephanie Palmer’s Good in Room (as an MGM executive, she wrecked many a screenwriter’s day) and my own personal experience on both sides of the desk.

Arriving late is number one. Arriving late displays a lack of regard for the purchasers’ time. “If you’re on time, you’re late,” is an excellent adage to live by. There will always be unforeseen challenges in getting into that conference room – there is shockingly bad traffic on the way there, you have to park a few streets away, you have to walk through a security check in the foyer, the office is on the 50th story, and all the elevators are packed. As a result, allow 15 minutes to arrive in the approximate neighborhood of the meeting location. If you don’t run across any of the aforementioned roadblocks, inform the receptionist that you’ve arrived early, but that you won’t need to identify yourself until 5 minutes before the appointment. Simply find a seat in the waiting room and go through your notes again.


2. Inappropriate attire. Dress to the standards of the firm to which you’re pitching. Wear a suit if it’s a classic, conservative company. Wear khakis and a sport coat if the company is contemporary and relaxed. Consider wearing blue, since this hue evokes a sense of confidence.

3. Selecting the incorrect seat. People have an odd sense of ownership over their seats. Try sitting in the incorrect seat at a tiny church (in the 18th century, families would “rent” a pew for the honor of having their name inscribed on it).

Someone may have to uncomfortably declare, “That’s my seat,” if they sit in the incorrect seat during a pitch meeting. Alternatively, they may remain silent but remain irritated by your apparent arrogance throughout the discussion.

If you’re not sure where they’d want you to place your kiester, just inquire, “Where would you like me to sit?” as soon as you enter.

4. Misspelling their name. Everyone like the sound of their own name, which is why addressing someone by their first name is one of the most straightforward methods to establish rapport. Getting someone’s name incorrectly, on the other hand, is one of the fastest ways to halt rapport-building in its tracks.

This may sound obvious, but I can’t tell you how many emails addressed to “Brent and Kay” we get.

When you misspell someone’s name, you’re demonstrating that you don’t know much about the firm you’re pitching to or that you’re careless with facts. If you follow up your name gaffe with, “I’m such a great admirer of yours!” it might come out as incredibly phony.

5. Not addressing the pitch to the whole audience. If both the president and the vice president are in the room, don’t only speak to the president and ignore the vice president. From the lowest note taker to the top dog, talk and establish eye contact with everyone in the room.

6. Behaving nervously. Maybe your proposal is brilliant, you prepared meticulously for the presentation, and your uneasiness stems from a phobia of public speaking. But there’s no getting around it: anxiousness equals ineptness and weakness. The customer will question whether you didn’t do enough preparation or if your proposal is so dangerous that even you aren’t sure about it. In any case, you’ve just made your work 10 times more difficult. You’ve also made their job more harder; they may appreciate your concept, but they don’t know how to get you in front of the right people.

Fumbling with materials, technological difficulties, frequent “ummms” and “uhhhs,” and sweaty pits are all signs of nervousness. Wear a jacket and/or use a therapeutic grade deodorant if the latter is an issue for you.

7. Begin with apologies. This is arguably the poorest beginning you can offer your pitch, whether it’s due to your lateness, anxiousness, or anything else. Allow your initial words to be a display of power and confidence.


8. Expressing your own thoughts about your work. “This is an amazing concept that will alter the world,” don’t say. Allow the concept to speak for itself.

9. Explicitly stating how the customer will feel. Don’t say anything like “You’re going to adore this” or “I have a great suggestion for you.” People despise being told what they should think or how they should feel.

10. Making a hasty entry into your pitch. The first step is to establish a connection with the customer. Jumping into your pitch before you’ve established rapport is akin to attempting to slide down a Slip ‘n Slide before the water has been turned on.

11. Bringing up the subject of money too soon. If you’re seeking for a significant investment and mention that nut too soon in your presentation, the buyer will be nervous and examine the remainder of your presentation through the lens of, “This better be good to deserve that much money!” It significantly raises their expectations. When it comes to money, though, if you wow them with your presentation, they’ll perceive the figure through the lens of, “Whatever it is, we’ll make it work.” It’s up to us to make it happen.”

12. Placing fake flattery on someone. I just received a proposal from a startup. “The Art of Manliness: World’s Best Online Magazine for Men,” they declared on the first slide of their Powerpoint presentation. “Art of Manliness World’s Best Data,” according to a spreadsheet they supplied us. Did I add that the meeting was titled “Art of Manliness+World’s Best” and the password was “TheBest” on the meeting reminder?

This came out as frantic and over-the-top to me. A little flattery goes a long way toward building rapport. Too much, on the other hand, comes off as desperate and fake, since it gives the impression that what you’re selling has to be padded excessively.

Compliment the buyer on anything particular they’ve done that you appreciated, especially if it’s something that the typical joe who doesn’t know much about the firm isn’t aware of.

13. There isn’t enough context provided. Chip and Dan Heath tackle “The Curse of Knowledge” in their book Made to Stick. The Curse of Knowledge refers to the reality that when you’re immersed in a topic, it’s easy to forget that others aren’t as well-versed in it. Something may seem so obvious to you that it doesn’t even need to be mentioned, yet it might be a completely novel concept to someone else. You may exclude essential data from your presentation if you assume the customers know stuff they don’t. As a consequence of the purchasers’ uncertainty, they will write you off.

Whether you’re not sure if you and the buyer are on the same page during your presentation, just ask, “Are you acquainted with X?” before moving on to the next point. This also prevents you from boring the consumer with facts that they are already familiar with.


14. Using jargon that the customer doesn’t understand. This relates to the previous point. We had a TV/film agent who spoke to us in a lot of Hollywood jargon that a handful of Oklahomans couldn’t understand. That is one of the reasons we moved to a different agent.

15. Simply stating “I don’t know.” Instead, respond, “I’m not sure.” But I’ll find out for you and send you an email later today with the details.”



Not only is it important to make a good first impression, but it’s also important to know what not to do. Here are some examples of how not to start a business pitch. Reference: how to start a business pitch example.

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