If you’re a creative professional, then you know “pitching” projects or ideas is difficult – even in the best situation. Whether it’s a movie idea, a design project, pitching for a new job – whatever, there are so many variables, that even with experience it’s always a challenge. One of the most common tests in pitching is the presence of an expected guest.
Here’s the scenario: For weeks, you’ve been preparing to pitch to “Mr. Big.” You’ve done your homework, know the project, and are ready to go. But when you arrive, you’re surprised by the presence of another person in the room with Mr. Big. Sometimes he or she is introduced, and sometimes not. Plus, you don’t know if it’s another producer, a partner in the firm, a romantic relationship, a golfing buddy, or your competition. Whoever it is, it’s terribly awkward.
So most creative people decide the best strategy is to focus on Mr. Big. After all, he invited you, and he (or she) is the one who can green light the project. So it makes perfect sense.
The problem is, no matter who that mystery guest is, the first thing Mr. Big will do when you walk out of the room is turn to her and ask, “What did you think?” If you ignored or disrespected that guest, she’ll probably respond with, “Honestly, I didn’t like her very much.”
And your project is dead.
Here’s the key: Whenever you pitch and there’s an unexpected guest present, introduce yourself, and then pitch to both people. Embrace the guest(s) and include them in your presentation. You have no idea the influence they may have with Mr. Big, so impressing them, can be just as important as impressing him.
I’d love to know – have you ever applied for a job, pitched a project, or had other critical meetings when a mystery guest showed up? What did you do?