My friend,

I enjoyed your last speech.

You were poised and confident. Your voice, gestures and eye contact were great.

I clearly understood your message. You made good points. They led to a reasonable conclusion.

However, as I was listening, I started wondering - so what? Why does it matter to me?

Your speech was not playing on my radio station – WIIFM, the "What's In It For Me" station.

What was wrong? I was waiting for your “Sales Pitch.”

We are the audience. We came to hear you speak. Your topic interested us. We came because we know and respect you.

As the speaker, you should know your audience. Understand us, our interests and our mood. Tailor the information in your speech, and adjust your style, tone, and manner of delivery for us.

Most of all, recognize that our needs are not defined. We do not know what we want. We may know that we have a problem. Or, we would like to be happier. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we have a problem; your speech may have helped us to realize it.

Your job is to convince us that you have a solution that will reduce our pain or increase our pleasure, so that, when you do conclude with your “call to action,” we will be ready to enthusiastically say “YES.”

It is up to you not only to explain the answer, but also how it will help me, and every other member of the audience. Your answer must be personal. It must demonstrate the benefit to me.

How do you do this?

The first step is in building the case for your message. What is a message? It is the statement that you want the audience to remember after we leave. It is clear, concise and appropriate to us.

Consider yourself as a guide. As you progress towards your goal, you identify the main points that lead us to your conclusion. Each main point is a landmark along the way to your destination. As you describe each main point, you are leading the way to your destination.

The next step is to make your “sales pitch” as you summarize each point. Relate the point to some aspect or issue that is (or could be) in my life. Of course your comments can be general enough to apply to all of us.

This is important – do NOT assume that we can see the link between each main point. Do not assume that we will come to the same conclusion that you did.

For example, say your overall message is, “you can live longer with healthy lifestyle.” Your three main points may be, “eat a healthy diet,” “exercise,” and “keep a positive attitude.” After you have talked about each main point, you review what you just said. But how does it apply to us? How does it reduce our pain or increase our pleasure?

A recap that says, “a diet of whole grain, high protein and low fat will help your heart and weight” is a good conclusion, but it does not tell me that I will benefit from it. I may be able to grasp how the concept applies to my own life, but I may not.

However, try adding, “Can you change from white bread to whole grain? Can you change from whole milk to 2% milk? Small changes like these can reduce your risk of heart disease, and help you to lose weight. You experience new, delicious food choices, you feel better and you have more energy.”

Now I understand, because it applies to me. When I hear that, I can tie in all the theory, examples and statistics you presented to my own life. That is your “sales pitch.”

Do that for each of your main points. Then, do that to conclude your overall message. By doing this at each point and at the closing, you connect all the dots so that we can follow you all the way to your destination. We will want to be there with you.

The sales pitch is not your message. The sales pitch is not your call to action.

The sales pitch is your opportunity to build a personal connection between each member of your audience and your message. Take advantage of every instance to show us that we personally will benefit from your answer, your message. Make us want to know your answer; make us want to say “yes, I want that” when you get to your call to action.

Author's Bio: 

Fred Haley, published author and speaker, has been a member of Toastmasters for over 12 years. Fred has earned two Distinguished Toastmasters awards. His web site, is “Every Toastmaster’s first stop for advice and resources.” Fred publishes a regular ToastMentor newsletter. Contact him at