Four Pitch Presentation Errors To Avoid
Read in 3 min. The OJ trial was weird. Although I don't have any of the specifics, I do know that DNA can't jump and that if you're innocent you don't go driving away in a white Bronco with the entire police force on your tail. Or maybe you do. But that's beside the point. I was not a juror and OJ was found innocent. Marcia Clark, though, was guilty - of making four key errors in her pitch to the jury.
A Consultant from
Cape Town, South Africa
Sid is available for projects both virtually and in-person.
Clark had lots of experience with black female jurors - she had noticed that when it came to prosecuting violent offenders, it was these women who knew, more than any other, of the destructive effect of violence on society, and would want these offenders off the street. But something had happened to society. And that something was Rodney King.
Police brutality towards blacks was now on the radar. The issue of violence was no longer black and white. It was blue on black. Clark knew this when the trial started, but she, like so many of us, find comfort in using a strategy that has always worked. So, she proceeded with the strategy of putting violent offenders away - when the issue had changed to violent policemen.
Error #2: not recognising the real destination
Clark spent 23 weeks presenting evidence to prove that OJ Simpson killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Brown. "It was premeditated murder," she said, "That is what I will prove."
She could have done that on day one. Her real job was to return a guilty verdict. As we know, from the clear message of impending death on our cigarette boxes - knowing and acting are two very different things. We know smoking will kill us eventually. But we smoke. We are not ignorant - it's just that belief and action are two different things.
The OJ defense knew this, so all they had to do was make it uncomfortable for the jurors to return a guilty verdict - give them another, more comfortable action.
Error #3: lecturing
Clark did not leave out a single detail. That's a pity for two reasons. First, it reduces the audience to a passive spectator - they don't have to be engaged in anything - they're not involved. Secondly, your audience feels dumb. The jury preferred to vote against the person that appeared distant and made them feel stupid. Just as a client in a pitch would.
Error #4: boring the audience
Clark told the story of DNA. She described in excruciating detail how the Restriction Fragment Link Polymorphism Test done in lab 1 differed from lab 2. She even provided the impressive statistic that the blood on OJ's sock belonging to anyone other than his victim was one in 21 billion. Golly gee whiz.
The defense preferred to tell a story. One of lies, corruption, ineptitude and police bigotry. And then, of the glove that OJ showed was too small to get his hand in, Johnnie Cochran said: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." And after deliberating for less than four hours, that's just what they did.
Reference: Jon Steel. Perfect Pitch. John Wiley & Sons.
Your thoughts matter - more than you can imagine.
More Articles by Sid 5 Free | Ad-Free | Full-Text Business Papers
Sales - GeneralIn lean manufacturing lingo, Muda is a traditional Japanese term for activity that doesn't add value - is wasteful. Here are the seven muda as they relate to new business pitching.
EntrepreneurialVisit the business section of your bookstore, and you are left with the distinct impression that improbable entrepreneurial success is achieved by people ...
Sales - GeneralWhen we accept the challenge of a new pitch, we stand the chance of getting it wrong. But it's not the getting it right or wrong that's important, it's ...
Sales - GeneralMost people really believe that smoking causes lung cancer. No one wants lung cancer, but people still smoke. When we sign up for the gym, we sincerely ...
StrategyHenry Ford sold the Model T in 'Any colour you like as long as it's black', with the slogan 'It gets you there and it brings you back.' He sold 15 million. ...
More 'Presentation Skills' Articles
5 more Articles that may interest you, too...
By Allan M.
The best presenters I have seen concentrate fully on the audience, engaging them with both the content, their energy and their enthusiasm. Some of the best presenters I have encountered would have been "destroyed" by the video analysis in that their hands were doing this or their feet doing that!
By Alan S.
Your whole body is trembling with fear - but a stiff drink won't help. Your voice has almost disappeared - but you don't need a doctor. Your mind has gone completely blank - but you haven't developed amnesia. The real reason? - you're just about to make a presentation.
By Bob H.
There's Ivy League evidence
By Graham Y.
Have you had this feeling before? Rest assured you are not alone. You might be one of the many who would rate your fear of public speaking alongside or ahead of death! Your fear may translate itself to "FEAR" - Forget Everything And Run!