World Cup 2018: England vs. Russia
From Russia with Love
Best technical bid, best commercial bid, a great presentation – but England didn’t win the bid. Russia did. On the morning of the final world cup bid presentations, I heard Lord Sebastian Coe being interviewed on the radio. The advice he gave for the England pitch was simple, clear and concise. He said, “They need to give five Oscar-winning performances today. They all need to be saying the same thing and hammer home the passion and desire to host the 2018 world cup. They need to create belief. The presentation is the last chance to influence their (FIFA) thinking.” And I said to myself, “Spot on, Seb. Exactly the advice I’d have given them.”
The other point I would have made was, it is what you say, and hammer home, and it’s how you say it. Those of you who have been coached by me will also know that the first four to six minutes is a critical time of the presentation to influence the audiences thinking. Who had the better first 4-6 minutes? For me, it was Russia.
After the presentations and after the outcome had caused delight in Russia and shockwaves in England, I heard another journalist describing the first couple of minutes of the English pitch as ‘wooden.’ Hmm… a fair point. Yet the following four minutes, delivered by Prime Minister David Cameron, was superb.
By contrast, the whole of the 6 minutes of the Russian pitch was superb. Just one presenter: Alexey Sorokin, Head of Marketing and Advertising, Moscow Institute of Cybernetic Medicine. His opening statement grabs your attention when he says, “Should we bore you to death with what is in our ‘bid book’, or tell you what is in our hearts?” His use of a famous quote by Winston Churchill works wonderfully and was a great set-up for piquing attention when he said that if FIFA did award the bid to Russia, “It could be a game-changer” for FIFA. It leads into a wonderful short movie which effectively tugs at the heart-strings.
When I coach teams on their final pitch presentation, I have often found that their modus operandi for the presentation delivery is to have each of the team deliver a part of it. I always challenge this. If you do have to have more than one presenter, then open with your best presenter for the first four to six minutes. It doesn’t have to be the ‘head honcho’; just the best presenter. And have the same best presenter to close. The other key point is to make sure everybody is hammering home the same benefits, and from the heart. This takes time and rehearsals. It will be a game-changer and will influence the way your clients are thinking. During the rehearsals, coach each other. To quote the Olympian Seb Coe, ‘Coaching is the gold dust of champions.’
Alexey Sorokin delivered a superb presentation. How could it have been better? If he’d done what David Cameron correctly chose to do. Don’t stand behind a podium – it’s a barrier!
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