You’re up. It’s your turn to present, and the success of weeks or more of work rely on the outcome of this meeting. Do you fire up your Prezi and read closely from your notes, or do you take a chance and go off-script? If you want really great pitch advice, ask a performer. Better yet, ask an improviser, a performer whose content is unrehearsed, and whose craft is responding to other performers and the audience.

Alright, when given the chance to present your own work, you’re going to do at least a bit of preparation. Still, the improviser’s perspective can be an advantage; a glimpse at how being nimble can help you win your audience.

Joe Berkowitz gives us great insight in his article “7 Tips for Pitching Ideas, from World-Class Improviser Jason Mantzoukas” written last month for Co.Create.

As Berkowitz writes, “It turns out some of the same problems that plague improv performers—not reading the room, seeming rigid and overly rehearsed—are the same ones that sink great ideas during formal presentations. One person who will never have problems in either of those areas, though, is Jason Mantzoukas.”

Berkowitz goes on to describe Mantzoukas’s seven lessons in context with scenarios from his past pitches and performances. To paraphrase each of the lessons so vividly illustrated in the article:

  1. Use a fresh pitch for each situation.
  2. Be prepared to give the audience more of whatever they respond to.
  3. “Don’t just listen to your audience’s feedback; incorporate it.”
  4. If you can own up to losing your way, there’s a way to win your audience back.
  5. Bring a visual aid to make your vision clear.
  6. Meet your audience where they are; your content will resonate.
  7. Assert yourself when necessary.

This is a great list of ways to be more persuasive when speaking and presenting. As Berkowitz quotes Mantzoukas:

“…More than anything I want, when I walk out of that room, I want people to feel like we together just had this great meeting where we talked about this show that we’re all excited about. Rather than, ‘Oh, I just heard someone talk about something at me.’ I want it to have been more of a ‘with me’ conversation.”

Isn’t that what we all want when our Prezi ends? I encourage my readers and audiences to own their presentations, and I think these are really great examples of how to do that effectively, and win.