It’s 2.30pm on the Friday before the big Tuesday graphic design pitch. I’m running through my designs with another team member, who has also created artwork for the project, and my Creative Director. After spending a reasonable amount of time over two weeks generating some good ideas and some visuals for the pitch, we still don’t think we are quite there – and confidence is at a low in the sub team. Our Creative Director throws it out there by asking, “should we be pitching on Tuesday or is it time to bow out?”
Suddenly my attention is grabbed and my brain goes into overtime with various thoughts and questions whirling around. Obviously we want to pitch as this is a great opportunity for our design department and the business as a whole, however we really don’t want to look unprepared going into a pitch if our ideas and designs are only half-baked. The fear is growing and we are all doubting ourselves going into this pitch. Imposter syndrome is starting to take hold.
A thought from the left side of my brain is emerging; I know that the ideas we have are good and if I could visualise mine better, then this would show my real intent and purpose and where these ideas could go. I also knew that my other design colleague just needed some more belief in the designs that they had been working on.
So as a team, how do you hold on in these tricky situations?
What makes you feel like a pitch-winning team?
Personally, I think there’s three main points that can help any team in need of a lift when going into a pitch:
1. How do you give the whole team confidence to go into the pitch?
2. How do you turn your ideas into pitch-winning ideas?
3. How can you inject positive energy to help the rest of the team along?
Let’s explore these points.
How do you give the whole team confidence to go into the pitch?
This takes the form of understanding and positivity. Understand your team’s skill sets – great teams should have all skill aspects covered and if there are any gaps, work out ways to plug them.
If your team have a lot of experience then they probably need a positive reminder of what they have achieved up to now and how this has grown the company. However, if your team are pitching for something that you haven’t done before and don’t have a lot of experience in, then you need to think about the core skills needed, and you also need to be upbeat about taking your work up to the next level. We tend to think, ‘what does next level look like and what to could it do for the team?’
How do you turn your ideas into pitch-winning ideas?
Firstly, sit back, relax, clear your mind of negative thoughts and evaluate the situation. Look at the problem from another direction and look at look at your strengths as well as your weaknesses – this will help get to the real source of the problem. You could even do a quick SWOT analysis (assessing your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) to assess your work and ideas. What you should get out of this is clarity and the steps needed to happen to move the pitch along. Then you should set a deadline to review the developed ideas/work. This should then be the point where you can decide to bow out or continue to get your pitch ready.
How can you inject positive energy to help the rest of the team along?
I guess it takes determination, belligerence and a lot of passion to help your team in these situations. Fire up your team with your determination and strength of character – everyone needs a bit of a helping hand sometimes. Use some belligerence in a good way and be eager to move the pitch forward – know that your team can do this! Being passionate about what you do and what a winning pitch could bring to the team helps immensely and, if needed, show the fire in your belly! Also positivity and good energy is a great thing – you might not win the pitch but you can put your best foot forward and do the very best you can. You’ll always learn something to take into the next one – whether you win the work or not.
Hopefully these points can bring real value when your team need a lift, and can help you explore how to keep the energy when you’re buckling.
With our pitch dilemma, we relaxed and did the above.
We evaluated, defined and delegated some tasks during the Friday afternoon, and we all decided to do some extra work that weekend. This was done in our own time and at our own pace and was also collaborative by reviewing a couple of development ideas at one or two points over the weekend. We came back on the Monday, re-reviewed and confidence was at a high, we could see that we had some great evolved ideas and with a bit more tweaking during the day could put forward a good, solid pitch.
The pitch turned out to be a successful pitch and we learnt many things from it – including how to hold on!