10 Things The World Cup Bids Teach Us About Presenting

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010 3 comments

england-world-cupWith the World Cup 2018 Host announced this month, the English branch of m62 is still trying to get over its disappointment. Russia will host 2018’s event, Qatar 2022′s, and England will have to wait several years before it has the chance to bid again.

The bidding was complex, with final presentations from each bidder as the last chance to influence the vote. With such a variety of presentations, and with such a large stake, it was surprising to still see familiar mistakes in the presentations. So, what can we learn from the bidding nations’ efforts?

1. If you have an obvious, potentially critical, weakness – address it.
Qatar bid chief executive Hassan Al-Thawadi promised that “Heat is not and will not be an issue”. Recognising the risk involved in awarding the World Cup to a small country whose bid was given a low-scoring technical evaluation, Qatar turned the argument around while attempting to nullify the perception that they represented a risky option – “We know it would be a bold gamble and an exciting prospect but with no risk.”

2. Demonstrate commitment by putting the right people in the room.Picture4
Putting your top people in the room is a great way of demonstrating your understanding of the importance of the bid. Do this, and your audience will have to believe how seriously you are taking the opportunity. England’s bid included not only the most famous footballer in the world, but the British Prime Minister and, in David Cameron’s words, “the future King of England” himself. The bids all tried to bring famous footballers, politicians, and statesmen. Putin only came to celebrate afterwards (still showing commitment) – but he may have known something the English team didn’t…

3. Pick themes that your audience care about.
Spain and Portugal placed a lot of emphasis on the tourism opportunities they could provide. There were lots of images of fantastic weather and bikini-clad women – but would this really influence FIFA’s decision? The bid is concerned with finding the right host for the World Cup – FIFA are concerned with football, money, and growth in new markets. As the awards for both 2018 (massive distances) and 2022 (no alcohol, no homosexuality in public) show, FIFA probably aren’t thinking primarily about fans when making their awards.

4. Make the emotional connection, and do it early in the pitch. david-beckham-kids
You want to persuade your audience to connect with you, and if they want you to win, they are more likely to find reasons for you to do so. Touching anecdotes and emotive videos were used throughout the bidding. Eddie Afekafe’s story of how football has saved him and others from a life of crime is moving, and would touch the hearts of many.

5. Allude to problems with competing bids, but think twice about attacking them directly in case that is seen as unduly negative.
Villar Llona, bidding for Spain and Portugal, stated: “You have already heard enough slander in the media, the bidding process is clean regardless of what they say.” In this comment, he alludes to the problems highlighted recently in the English media, in order to damage England’s bid. Making a negative comment without being blatantly rude can help to demean your competition – but don’t take it too far, as you can insult many, and be seen as unscrupulous.

6. Look smart, and look united.
Most of the bidders wore suits – and the best of these wore identical ones, making them look like a true, patriotic team. This portrays a professional image, and further emphasises the cause. That said, there are always exceptions – and as the member of Japan’s team who wore a Japanese football kit demonstrated, sometimes departing from the norm can be a nice touch.

7. Think about your body language.
While Russia’s presentation was pretty good, the way the speakers stood behind the podium distanced them from the audience. England’s bidders took centre stage with hands free microphones, able to gesture as they pleased. This really enabled them to engage and connect with the audience, further pushing the emotional angle.

8. Check for mistakes. Picture2
Any presentation, even at the top level, can make the most basic of mistakes – as was demonstrated in the joint Netherland/Belgium presentation. Pitching in English, one of their slides contained the word ‘enthousiasm’ – an incorrect spelling. This gives off a careless, unprofessional image – not the best impression when you are bidding to host such a big event.

9. Don’t be boring, don’t over-run, and definitely don’t do both.
The Spain/Portugal presentation was considered by many as ‘uninspiring’ and ‘not much fun’. Any dull bid will not be persuasive, but for an exciting topic such as the World Cup, it is likely to have even more of a negative impact. Not only that, but the Spain/Portugal bid dragged on. And on. Aside from anything else, going over your time slot is rude, and will irritate your audience. Certainly not the best way to get them on your side!

10. Sometimes, even with a great presentation, if deals have been made in advance, and decision-making processes are murky, the best pitch might be unsuccessful.
Making a big decision is never black and white, and you might not always get the result you feel you deserve. England’s pitch presentation was strong, the bid was strong technically, but the result was awful. The strong presentation actually tells us something – this bid could not have been won without doing something radically different. If the pitch had been weak, England would have been left unsure as towhether they had a chance but didn’t take it.

Need to vent? Let rip in the comments, below.

  1. Check for mistakes. Any presentation, even at the top level, can make thePicture2most basic of mistakes – as was demonstrated in the joint Netherland/Belgium presentation. Pitching in English, one of their slides contained the word ‘enthousiasm’ – an incorrect spelling. This gives off a careless, unprofessional image – not the best impression when you are bidding to host such a big event.

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3 Comments to 10 Things The World Cup Bids Teach Us About Presenting

  1. #1

    Keith Davis

    8:49 pm, December 30th, 2010

    Ten great points and I particularly like number 4…

    ” Make the emotional connection, and do it early in the pitch.”

    When I coach people in making speeches and presentations I always remind them…

    Facts tell, emotions sell.

    Thanks for a super article.

  2. #2

    Shane Barber

    10:13 am, January 4th, 2011

    One of England’s key probems was the emotional dysfunction between the message and the reality. While the FA was pitching a strong technical bid with a great presentation, the BBC (seen as part of the official Government apparatus by many) was taking pot shots at the very select group who would be voting. The moral stance on corruption is irrelevant – it’s the mismatch of the two messages that lost it.

    My experience is that your message can be as persuasive as hell and look brilliant, but if it doesn’t match the reality as perceived by your audience, you’re wasting your time no matter how fantastic your presentation. If MacDonalds tried to sell you the idea they were championing vegetarianism in a closed presentation while launching in a new hamburger on TV, would you be sceptical?

    Corporate schizophrenia is a real beartrap. Always make sure you know what other messages your organisation is giving before contradicting them.

  3. #3

    Joby Blume

    10:24 am, January 4th, 2011

    @Keith – thanks for the feedback.

    @Shane – although most of the damage to the perception of the bid was probably done well before the BBC aired Panorama – by the Sunday Times’ sting. Somehow that’s been forgotten…

    In theory of course, there’s no mismatch between being able to put on an efficient/profitable World Cup, and being against corruption. I guess if decision makers dislike you, things are always going to be hard…