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Inspire, Move, Transform: Top Resources for Honing Your Pitch

Last month I had the amazing opportunity to attend a 5-day intensive training that helped participants shape their own narrative and hone their presenting skills. It was transformational (more on that to come), but it also got me thinking about the influential leaders out there who help creative leaders become better speakers.

Throughout my career, I’ve been lucky enough to “present” on many occasions – whether it was a sales pitch during my time in advertising, my early days leading workshops and classes as a coach, or on stage in front of hundreds at TEDx Austin.

But no matter how seasoned or confident we are, presenting is a muscle we have to train and exercise. That’s why, fresh off the heels of my own work, I wanted to share with you some of my top influencers and teachers when it comes to presenting. From pitching, to selling, to persuading, to entertaining, or moving teams into action – these top leaders will help you flex your in-the-spotlight muscles and give you confidence to tackle any situation.

Peter Coughter, The Art of the Pitch
I don’t know any Creative Executive that has come into contact with Peter Coughter that didn’t have an insightful experience.  He’s a legend and pitch guru in the ad biz, but he also expands his work into other industries.

In fact, we were hoping to interview Peter, but after we read The Art of the Pitch, I couldn’t think of anything we could ask that he doesn’t cover in his amazing book. In fact, throughout this post you’ll see a few quotes from Peter.

“Every organization needs to have a set of beliefs
that inform everything it does.”
Peter Coughter, The Art of the Pitch

Nancy Duarte, Author of HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations, Resonate, and Slide:ology
Nancy is an incredible resource for pitching and presenting. We first discovered Nancy in her TEDx Talk where she breaks down both MLK’s I have a Dream Speech and Steve Jobs’ iPhone Launch. We encourage you to play around on Duarte’s (gorgeously designed) website, where you can get free resources, buy her books, and learn about her trainings.

“Let’s remember that this is about persuasion,
and someone who appears to be regurgitating
memorized material is not persuasive.”
Peter Coughter, The Art of the Pitch

Sally Hogshead, Fascinate
Ok, ok, ok. We admit it. We kind of (really) love Sally Hogshead at The Creative Executive. We wrote about her in our Ones to Watch article, but we couldn’t have a post about presenting and not include this powerhouse!

Sally is a creative guru and world-class branding expert that teaches her audience how to fascinate; her books–How the World Sees You, Fascinate, and Radical Careering–can be found here. Sally discovered a new way to measure how people perceive your communication, and teaches her methodology to help others gain traction in the creative world.

“The audience will not remember the vast majority of what you say. 
But they will remember what they thought about what you said. 
And what they felt about what you said.”
Peter Coughter, The Art of the Pitch

TED (and it’s list of tremendous presenters!)
Is there anything better than having time to curl up with your computer and watching a TED playlist? We dare say no. And with the addition of TEDx from cities throughout the world, the opportunities for inspiration feel endless.

We absolutely recommend watching others and getting inspired. What do you like about the talk? Where did they lose you? Surprise? Delight? Here are just a few of their most popular talks that we love.

Amy Cuddy – Your body language shapes who you are
Simon Sinek – How great leaders inspire action
Brené Brown – The power of vulnerability
Susan Cain – The power of introverts
Elizabeth Gilbert – Your elusive creative genius

Carmine Gallo, Author of The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs + Talk Like TED
Speaking of TED, Author and Consultant Carmine Gallo’s book “Talk Like TED” breaks down the 9 public speaking secrets of the world’s top minds and teaches you to sell your ideas persuasively. A former journalist at CNN, Carmine has great training on both telling your story and inspiring others.

“Use a vocabulary of achievement and victory.”
Peter Coughter, The Art of the Pitch

Chris Anderson, founder and curator of TED
Who better to take notes from then TED curator Chris Anderson? Just over ten years after acquiring TED, video plays had topped 1 billion. If your mission is “Ideas Worth Spreading” then we dare say mission accomplished!

Anderson published an article for Harvard Business Review last year where he broke down the steps to giving a killer presentation. A little heads up, you do have to purchase this article to see the full story (or have a HBR membership). But it’s well worth it!

“Never appear to be anything but thoughtful.”
Peter Coughter, The Art of the Pitch

Gail Larson, Transformational Speaking
Gail is a tremendous author, teacher, and mentor. Focusing on your Home Zone (Gail’s trademark approach), you have the opportunity to find yourself in your speaking, rather than training yourself to be someone that you’re not.

Interested in more? She has an online and immersion class. This is the work that I completed during my training. And I must say, I was transformed.

Adam McKee, Story
An a-typical resource, but one we want to mention. Screenwriter Adam McKee is one of the most powerful storytellers in Hollywood. He teaches others the nuance and power of story (having taught more than 100,000 writers). His style is direct and powerful. And while he teaches the art of screenwriting, his lessons can be applied to your own narrative.

There are so many amazing books (lots mentioned above) to help you improve your pitch and inspire and influence others. Here are a few more favorites (and no, we aren’t an Amazon affiliate, but perhaps we should look into it…)

Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
Nick Morgan, Give Your Speech, Change the World: How To Move Your Audience to Action
Jerry Weissman, Presenting to Win, The Art of Telling Your Story

And our parting words, again from Mr. Peter Coughter, is especially for the Creative Executives that we love:

“Bring the same level of creativity to selling the work
as you brought to creating the work.”
Peter Coughter, The Art of the Pitch

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