An Emergency Presentation in Vegas!

In Vegas! with Amazon CTO on Skype and Bastien in rehearsal

In Vegas! with Amazon CTO on Skype and Bastien in rehearsal

Late one Friday afternoon I got an email from Paris saying …

URGENT, we need to do this big pitch for Amazon in Vegas and we know you can help us channel our inner Americans…can you help?”

They’d clearly read the article in British Airways Magazine about me helping pitch teams by practicing in an American accent – it works!

However, it was Friday afternoon and I’d just opened a bottle of Prosecco.  Oh well, “c'est la vie” I thought, I’d LOVE to help, this sounds awesome!

My kids could play on their ipads for an hour while I investigated.

When I spoke to Bastien the first thing I thought was, hmm, yes, very French – great! Americans love that.  Gosh he is also extremely charming.  He’s going to have a whale of a time in Vegas.  OMG – it’s in 8 days - aarhhhh!

He was very nervous about pitching his new innovative tech-product “Churnspotter” to an audience of 700 (plus millions online) at the Amazon Invent event in Vegas and he’d never done anything like this before. …and we only had 2 weeks to prep.

Zut alors – it was a scary prospect! 

We knew we had to make sure Bastien nailed it in front of hundreds of international innovators in the land of WOW & AWESOME.

Luckily I could hear in Bastien’s voice that he was a bit of a cool techie dude and I knew I was in for a treat. 

So how did I get this charming young geek- chic French guy to nail his Vegas pitch?

I helped him bring his pitch to life with storytelling, authenticity, humour and joie de vivre!

And we did the whole thing; creating, crafting, tweaking and dress rehearsals over skype!  We never even met face to face.

These are my favourite 5 top tips I shared with Bastien.  They will help YOU next time you pitch…

TIP 1  Think Audience first!  

My Motto – something I’ve shared with business leaders all over the world “Love your audience a little bit more than yourself”

All those years of broadcasting at the BBC drilled this into me! 

Make sure you know what presses their buttons and have a killer opening line to hook them in. 

Before you even start putting your pitch deck together – do this quick fix audience exercise…

Get into their shoes and imagine you are them for 10 minutes – ask yourself “why do I care?” or “What’s in it for me?” (WINFM)

(This will make the whole process sooooo much more efficient!)


My advice to my techie dude - bring out the Bastien in Bastien.  He is a lovable geek, so I helped him play on his strengths; fun, warm, passionate, a go-getter, creative and charming. He wanted told be with great enthusiasm about his amazing new product called Churnspotter. He was very animated and had a great sense of humour.  

I could tell his humour and enthusiasm was going to work for him on the pitch.

TIP 3   Tell a Story that allows you to be you!

I asked Bastien had a hilarious story about getting the email from Amazon in the middle of the night with the VEGAS invitation – hurrah a great one to use!  

TIP 4   Sexy Slides – LESS is MORE!

Make the slides fun, minimal & use images - pictures are more powerful than words when you want to make an impact!

Create the slide AFTER you’ve worked out what you’re going to say NOT before. 

Remember bullets kill!  

Don’t pack your slides with too many bullet points

TIP 5   and ….wait for it

another motto of mine 

- Eyes and Teeth!

SMILE – this will help you look, sound and feel confident and relaxed (yes even if you’re exploding inside) 

And the verdict?

Bastien nailed it!  He bl**dy nailed it.

Here’s what he emailed to me that night…..

“The presentation went very well, we had great feedback and Jean-Louis, my boss loved it. Some persons in the audience liked the introduction so much that they laughed…thank you so much, I wouldn't have been able to do such a great presentation without you Esther”

Arrhh enchanté, I was delighted and tearful. What brilliant news.  I had felt his fear and his his excitement, I was with him all the way – even over Skype!  I felt like part of the team as I’d been speaking to his boss, Jean Louis too – who’d travelled to Vegas with Bastien. He was encouraging , supportive and full of boundless enthusiasm too.  He was part of the reason the pitch went so well.

So if you find yourself in a pitching emergency situation,  please don’t panic or call 911 email me –

and tell me how I can help you nail it just like Bastien.

patrick Volavka