A Hollywood Exec Teaches Business Pros to Pitch Their Ideas

Last Updated Jun 17, 2008 11:41 AM EDT

The Takeaway: In Hollywood, the phrase 'good in a room' is used to describe someone who pitches his ideas well. Stephanie Palmer, a former movie executive who has been on the receiving end of thousands of pitches, has written a book aimed at the business community to pass along what she learned about how to present yourself and your ideas to get the backing you need to make them happen. In a insightful interview on business guru Tom Peter's homepage, Palmer lays out her advice:
  • It's more important to be interested than interesting: rapport building (otherwise known as small talk) is actually the most important part of any meeting. Don't talk about business too soon and demonstrate you've done your homework by asking specific, targeted questions.
  • It might be counter-intuitive but focus more on relationship building than the immediate outcome of a meeting: "If you focus primarily on... learning from your experience, more than on getting a particular result, you are much more likely to achieve what you want in the long run."
  • Brevity has value, but don't pitch your idea in an elevator (or at the dentist, or in the men's room): if you care about the project, wait for an opportunity when you have time to discuss it adequately.
  • Traditional networking is a waste of time. "Instead of spending small amounts of time with lots of people, I suggest spending more time with fewer, carefully chosen people."
  • Send hand-written notes in non-business sized envelopes: assistants will automatically put small envelopes at the top of the mail pile.
The interview is also available on MP3 for those who prefer to listen on the go.

The Question: Traditional networking is a waste of time - true or false?

(Image of the anatomy of a pitch by flyfshrmn98, CC 2.0)

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.