We clicked right away, Arthur and I. Yeah, that’s a conscious rhyme. Because rhyming also means that something is right, that it corresponds. Symbolic for this collaboration: it was okay and it worked. The audience in the Canon Canon auditorium felt it, too, without noticing that little beauty flaw.

I had the privilege to coach Arthur de Ruiter, director of AMI, manufacturer of aluminum building hardware, in preparing his pitch for the nomination meeting of the Lodewijk van der Grinten Prize.

Arthur always closes his emails, app messages and other correspondence with the typical greeting “With AMIable regards, Arthur”. When he gets excited about something, it gives him “kiepevel”, goosebumps. When walking around AMI, he greets everyone, always takes the time for real contact. Humanity and sustainability go hand in hand, was the core message of his pitch. And as I know him now, he lives this adage as an entrepreneur, as a leader and as a person. Such authenticity inspires me.

Here are three insights for you, which will undoubtedly come in handy for your pitch or presentation:

Who is your target audience and what do you want to achieve?

The aim of this pitch was that Arthur profiled himself powerfully within 3 minutes. Who am I? Why do I do what I do? What makes me and my company distinctive? In short, he had to ensure that the public and the jury perceived him and his company as sympathetic and competent. Thus he took his audience by the hand, on the way to awarding him the prize.

Prepare for success. 

Arthur is used to public speaking, as an executive, as a brand ambassador and as a carnival prince. Yet it's an exception that someone spontaneously delivers a brilliant pitch offhand. In any case, an effective pitch is a result of conceptualizing, elaborating, refining and practicing in front of the mirror, the coach, the camera. And on the spot, Arthur had familiarized himself with the surroundings, the stage and the moderator.

Connect and tell a story.

Arthur likes a good conversation, a great story. He is a natural born relationship builder. I didn't have to explain to him how important storytelling is. Both the form and the content of his pitch are built around proven techniques and principles. For example:

  1. A good entry using 4S: Step – Stand – Silence – Speak
  2. A catchy opening with interaction, to engage the audience and make people even more curious for what’s to come
  3. A clear key message
  4. Argumentation via the “magic of three”
  5. A round ending that summarizes, connects with the beginning and calls to action

And then the story was over. He paused and was silent. The public reacted enthusiastically. And Arthur savored the moment. 

Anyone who speaks in front of an audience is a hero. Deep down, we all feel that way. And that deserves a heartfelt applause – and perhaps also the Lodewijk van der Grinten Prize. 

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