Everybody’s ready for your pitch and knows what to expect, right? Are you sure? Always check before you begin. Ask everyone in the room what they expect the meeting to be about. Or start the pitch by describing the goal of the meeting and ask if everybody has the same agenda. Never assume.
Note: This is an excerpt from the book ‘Pitching Ideas: Make people fall in love with your ideas.’ More information: pitchingideas.com.
There will be meetings where you’re not the organizer and aren’t able to invite people properly. In some of these situations people are accidentally (or purposely) invited under false pretenses. Or perhaps they expected it to be about something else when they accepted the invite.
Not long ago I was in such a meeting. I was invited to pitch a project plan to two new clients at a company I already worked for. The client I knew had asked me to prepare the pitch and had invited the others, so they could decide whether they wanted to work with us. The moment I was introduced, I saw a flabbergasted look on their faces, which they tried to hide. Instead of starting my pitch, I asked them what they’d expected and they confessed they were surprised I was there. I smiled and said that the looks on their faces kind of gave that away, after which they relaxed a bit. At the same time, I asked the client I knew if she could give the others some extra context. After that they fully understood the meeting’s goal and agreed that the topic was important. In the end we got the assignment.