Season 1, Episode 23
Peter Coughter, bestselling author of The Art Of The Pitch
In this episode of the Pitch Masters podcast, I speak to yet another one of my all-time pitching heroes, the legendary Peter Coughter, founder and CEO of Coughter & Company, Professor at VCU Brandcenter, and author of one of my favourite books – The Art of the Pitch: Persuasion and Presentation Skills that Win Business. In this episode, we discuss a lot of pitch material – the fear we all have, whether we need a deck, bringing the right people, and breaking the rules. But, best of all, Peter is a natural-born storyteller, and this episode is packed to the brim with pitch anecdotes that will make you laugh and cry.
Plenty of books out there profess to hold the mysteries and secrets of powerful pitching; however, there isn’t a great deal of them that I’d personally recommend. One of the standout exceptions is Peter Coughter’s book, The Art Of The Pitch, Persuasion And Presentation Skills That Win Business. I’ve read that book many times, and it was one of my missions for Pitch Masters to convince Peter to come on the show.
Perhaps like many of you, I like books to be both practically applicable to real-life situations and entertaining at the same time. What I love about Peter’s book is that it outlines a highly logical and pragmatic approach but is also infused with anecdotes from his experiences pitching in advertising. In this episode, we delve into that practical advice, but I also hear some of those juicy pitch stories; the good, the bad, the happy, and the sad. He tells me how he helped the Boston Olympic Committee win the honour of being the US City of choice to be put forward for the 2024 Summer Olympics, by employing a highly emotional and heartfelt story about the Boston Marathon Bombings. He tells me the story of how he used a scene from Conan Barbarian to win the hearts and minds of a business that were strongly opposed to his agency. He also tells me the hilarious story of a pitch that went horrendously wrong in a hotel when the slide projectors became effected by the pushing of buttons in the elevator. He tells me a lot of great stories.
Peter’s philosophies are very much aligned with my own: pitching is about creating emotional connections, it’s about human relationships, and it requires storytelling, authenticity, and the courage to disrupt.
Peter Coughter’s journey began in the advertising world, where he founded Siddall, Matus & Coughter. Following a highly successful 20-year career there, he moved into teaching and pitch consulting. He is a professor at VCU Brandcenter in Virginia, USA, and President of Coughter & Company. His clients include the biggest names in the business – the NBA, Saatchi & Saatchi, Ogilvy, Dentsu, Havas, and AKQA to name just a few.
Drawing from his vast experience and expertise, he developed a comprehensive approach that blends creativity, storytelling, and strategic thinking. His method was so effective that he decided to share it with the world, leading to the creation of The Art of the Pitch.
Coughter’s book is a treasure trove of practical advice and insights on crafting and delivering powerful pitches. Here are some key takeaways:
- Storytelling: Coughter emphasises the power of storytelling as a persuasive tool. By creating narratives that captivate and engage the audience, he believes that a pitch can move beyond facts and figures, resonating on a deeper emotional level.
- Preparation: Coughter stresses the importance of meticulous preparation. From researching the client to understanding their needs and objectives, he emphasises the value of thorough groundwork to deliver a tailored and compelling pitch.
- Authenticity: Genuine passion and belief in your pitch can make all the difference. Coughter encourages individuals to embrace their authentic selves during presentations, allowing their enthusiasm and conviction to shine through.
- Building Relationships: Coughter highlights the significance of building rapport and establishing trust with the audience. By understanding their perspectives and actively listening, a presenter can tailor their pitch to address specific concerns and create a lasting connection.
This was genuinely one of my favourite episodes to record, and if you can spare the time to listen, you’re going to learn a helluva lot about the art of pitching.
Full episode available as video on Youtube and Apple Podcasts, and audio version available on all other podcast streaming platforms.
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