A Lesson in Pitching and Presentation Skills from Mr. Rogers

Eleni Kelakos presentation skills training, public speaking training, speech coaching

As a presentations skills trainer and coach, I often work with entrepreneurs who pitch their products and services to audiences of investors.  They are often so heavily focused on putting together the perfect slide presentation– chock full of numbers, graphs zippy videos—they forget to bring a powerful, somewhat intangible element to their pitches: Their relatable, human selves.

Which is why I always gently (and sometimes vehemently) steer my coaching clients towards the following five principles for pitching and presentations skills mastery:

  1. Tell a good story. And tell it well.
  2. Move your audience into feeling.
  3. Help your audience see and feel the value and benefit of what you’re selling.
  4. Speak from your heart.
  5. Connect—with your passion and purpose, and with the human beings in your audience.

Nobody modeled those principles better than Fred Rogers, the creator of the groundbreaking children’s television show, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood back in 1969, when he went before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Communications.  His goal was to prevent funding from being cut for PBS and the Corporation of Public Broadcasting. His six-minute speech is one of the best examples of a successful pitch I have ever seen.  And he did all without the use of a single PowerPoint slide!

Watching the video of Mr. Rogers deliver the magic, I couldn’t help but think of the words so often spoken by my friend and business coach, Mark Le Blanc: “Intangibles drive the tangibles.”  In this case of this historic pitch, those tangibles amounted to 20 million dollars. If that’s not a successful presentation, I don’t know what is!

I think Fred Rogers has a lot to teach us about pitching and presenting. Take a look at the video, and judge for yourself: https://youtu.be/yXEuEUQIP3Q