Congratulations! You've volunteered (or, more likely, have been volunteered) to work on a pitch. I've been there. As part of our agency's new business team, I've spent years working on new business pitches, and I am still blown away by the effort and energy that goes into a winning pitch.
Here are a few tips to get you across the finish line in one piece:
1. Don't just be there. Contribute.
A good pitch is a collaborative effort, and good ideas can come from anywhere. Now's your chance to speak up and get noticed by the leadership team. Roll up your sleeves and ask, "What can I do to help?" Contributions don't go unnoticed.
2. Embrace the chaos.
There are always questions. So many questions. You're not going to have enough time (or access to the clients) to come up with all the right answers. With the compressed timelines, new insights and ideas will pop up and change your direction. Your strategy will be sound until someone from the red team pops in and pokes a few holes in it. You've got to be able to think on your feet and live in the moment. It's not always going to be neat and orderly, but keep your eyes on the prize and you'll get there.
3. Stay fueled, but not just on junk.
Through the late nights, weekends and onslaught of meetings, it can be easy to fall into the takeout trap. When the empty pizza boxes pile high and the garbage smells of day-old Chinese food, remember that you get the best output from your body, and brain, when you get the best input.
Here at Digitas Health, our executive creative director, Craig Douglass, is known to bring a smorgasbord of nuts, wasabi chickpeas and other healthier munchables to keep the crew going. Just try to go easy on those chocolate-covered espresso beans.
4. Remember, this too shall pass.
Your typical pitch runs about three weeks (that's 21 days, 504 hours, 30,240 minutes or however you'd like to slice it). You're always up against a deadline, and time is against you. You will work hard for all of those 30,240 minutes. But don't despair, because there's light at the end of the tunnel. You can make it.
5. Know that it's OK to have fun.
It's a high-pressure situation, there's no doubt about that. But that doesn't mean you can't have fun. In fact, having fun with the team not only helps with the stress, but builds team chemistry as well—something clients are always looking for. A team that's in sync and vibing off each other's ideas gets clients excited. At the end of the day, clients are looking for good partners, not a good slide deck.
Lee Meccia is a senior new business manager for Digitas Health.