Book Category: Sales, Presentations,

The Art of the Pitch: Persuasion and Presentation Skills that Win Business (book summary)

Author: P. Coughter
Life Changing Principles
Quality of Writing
Overall Value
pros: Great book for those starting out with presentations, a kick in the pants
cons: Salesman-y at times
overall rating


Advertising champion Peter Coughter compiles a list of his strongest presentation advice, which landed him kabillions of dollars worth of advertising business. As is the nature of his industry, choices are often made within 15 minutes or less by huge companies looking for the right ad campaign. The result? A concise book with eerily familiar sounding presentation advice such as: three points maximum, start with silence, rehearse and don’t memorize, use very minimal text, and include stories.


  • Behind every compelling, emotionally moving presentation is a story, not a stat.
  • People tend to remember close to 0% of data.
  • Everyone in the world believes they need to “gussy up” their presentation style to make it serious and business-like, which in turn bores their audience into a conference chair grave. Instead, presentations should be emotionally compelling, concise as they need to be, and relatable.


  • Try to remember the names of the people on each of your kickoff calls so you can become more invested in the conversation, and they will also feel like you are invested.
  • Sell more “story” pitches to your clients, for their own good.
  • ….And on that note, be more comfortable with the idea of “selling” your own abilities, like an advertising agency would do.


Regardless of the situation or the stakes, I suggest that you think about presenting as an opportunity. An opportunity to share your thoughts with your audience–to give them the gift of you.

Here’s a useful way to think about convincing the client that your ideas are right: Do an ad for your ads.

Boring is the worst thing a presenter can be. It is the mortal sin of presenting. If you are boring, you are wasting your audience’s time, and they will hate you for it.

If you would find it boring, or if it reminds you of a presentation that you found particularly boring, take it out.

Communicate with Clarity, Conviction, and Grace.

Be open and approachable. Don’t try to be “professional.” People have to feel that they can relate to you.

Don’t assume that you know what your audience wants to hear. Don’t assume that they know what you’re there for.

Your audience will respond emotionally to images and the words you say to accompany those images. They will not respond emotionally to type on a screen.

I see these folks all the time. They think it’s somehow uncool to have to sell their work. Until they overcome that problem, they will continue to have their most beloved ideas rejected while they and their ad agencies end up producing work that doesn’t please anyone.

Virtually nothing is sold on the rational, analytical level.

Get folks involved in the call right away by calling them by name. Ask for their input and comments. Solicit the opinions of the quieter people who usually don’t speak up. Call on them by name, which emphasizes the need to pay attention.

Phone fatigue sets in early.