Us interns are wet behind the ears but we were tasked with pitching a marketing strategy as well as a potential client to approach. You can imagine the amount of pressure and nerves we felt while preparing for this. We felt like our lives were on the line—okay, maybe that’s a little too dramatic, but you get what we mean.
With what little knowledge we had, we dived right into the task and did our research. Our boss made it very clear that this pitch would be the real deal and we had to do it as if speaking to a client, it would be a way for us to gain experience and learn. Not gonna lie, we did end up leaving most of the work undone till d-day, but that was mostly because we had other tasks to do.
Besides this, the fact that we were so inexperienced only caused us to be even more nervous and unconfident in what we were pitching. Everyone knows you can’t sell anything if you have no confidence! So needless to say, it ended up an utter failure. However, Soon Seng gave us a lot of feedback and constructive criticism.
So firstly, our slides were horrendous; some of the pictures were pixelated and of poor taste.
Secondly, there was no real structure to our slides, therefore, our presenting was all over the place. Our points also weren’t clear so it wasn’t easily understood.
The biggest problem, however, was our confidence. At the end of our presentation when Soon Seng asked us how confident we were in our ability to get the client we suggested, we admitted our chances were really low. Soon Seng really emphasised on how much we needed to work on our confidence.
With all that in mind, we headed back to the drawing board. Three days and three nights we spent on our new and improved pitch—just kidding, we only had two days to work on everything. This time, we didn’t wait until last minute and started with redoing our slides as well as making sure that our points were more clear and concise.
Two days later, it was showtime. This time, we had an actual structure to our presentation and made sure to show that with our slides. We had more information as well. The confidence part, well, that still wasn’t really there but it was definitely better than the first time around. To us, it was a big relief to hear that we improved.
My head felt like there were needles poking into it. Every breath I took burned my lungs. My heart pounded like would at a rock concert. The hope of surviving the day was lost. It felt like I had lost everything.
Everything I said above is an exaggerated expression of how failure felt like. My background is in marketing and public relations. You would think that research and pitching would be normal and easy for me. You are wrong (at least in my case). The whole experience of “pitching to a client” could not have felt any worse.
However, if there is one thing that was great about failing is that there was an opportunity to learn.
One of my key takeaway points from the experience is to do research on the important things. Every bit of information on your potential client’s business activity or websites is important. Focusing solely on SEO made it difficult to do research on the company (limited my own thinking). Learning about how Google and the potential client’s website affects SEO among other factors helped us understand our task better. It also helped me build confidence in pitching knowing what I am actually talking about.
Another key point that I took away from the experience is to be specific. When presenting data to a client or any person in general, you need to be very specific.
It is very important to highlight the key points in images or statistics. It is important to direct the listener to what you are talking about and to present things that they want to know. It helps them understand your point and prevents frustration from searching through your slides.
Finally, the whole experience has really made me realize how important experience really is. From failure comes success. Our atrocious first presentation helped us come back strong. We do, we learn then we improve. There is definitely a sense of dread that comes from failing, but only through persevering through the tough times can we build character.
As opposed to my partner, I come from a mass communication background and have significantly less experience in the field of marketing. Also, I’m much less dramatic than he is (no she is not).
Sure I’ve done presentations before, it’s something that one often does while in college or university. It’s certainly normal to get nervous before one because your grades are on the line each time you do a presentation. However, being told to pitch as if pitching to an actual client is way more nerve-wracking.
Nevertheless, here are a couple of things I took away from this whole experience.
Confidence—it’s everything when it comes to pitching. You need to be confident in what you’re trying to sell in order to make the client trust you. If you’re confident in your products or services, it’ll make the client think you’re not good enough and you won’t get hired. My confidence when pitching is definitely something I need to work on and I have to not let the nerves get to me.
Be specific—you don’t want to risk confusing others or yourself. Everything has to be clear-cut and concise, slides are just a tool to help you better illustrate a point but they have to be arranged in a way that can be easily stood while still containing a significant amount of information. During our first sorry excuse for a presentation we definitely just dumped all the information we had which resulted in us confusing people. It’s definitely important to structure the entire presentation and have all your points ready.
A learning experience—every experience is chance to learn something. There’s still much we need to work on but what’s important is that we have learned our weaknesses through our failure of a pitch and we managed to improve in the second one. Whether you experience failure or success, what’s important is that you take something away from it.
There’s still much to learn and much to work on but hopefully, we’ll do much better next time.