As a PhD, you have invested years in your research. The stories that will explain why and tell of its impact deserve to be told so that you and your research will succeed. PhD PowerPitch especially created for PHD’s is a program that helps you tell purpose-driven stories within a well structured architecture that will persuade your listener to action.

‘Why’ not ‘how’

why not how


During one of our PowerPitch training days, a young man described his research work on the capabilities of bamboo.

His knowledge of its attributes was vast. The outline of his ‘how’, his study methods and protocols, was meticulous.

But the purpose for his research, how ‘why’ — the Eureka moment we hoped would reward him and the world for his painstaking study — remained a mystery to us.

The more he spoke about his method, the less we understood. So we kept asking him why it mattered.

Finally, he told us a personal story.  He revealed his deep distress about the millions of tonnes of toxic plastic waste in landfill from vehicle interiors.

He explained if he could prove his thesis that bamboo was shatterproof, it had astonishing potential for the transport industry to replace petro-chemical derivatives as the primary material for vehicle interiors.

It was a light bulb moment. He saw how he could explain the impact of his research through ‘why not how’, and this personal and purpose driven story.

So much bigger than the properties of bamboo and ‘how’ he was researching them, his ‘why’ as a quest to rid the world of unnecessary plastic waste made for a much more compelling pitch.  Who would not want to get behind it?

What’s your why? How could you shift your personal story from how to why to more powerfully articulate it to engage, connect and boost recall of your key messages?

If you would like to find out, contact me for details of our latest  PowerComms training.

PowerPitch training

There is never a better time to pitch than now



I heard this definition of procrastination recently, as related to perfectionism.

‘It’s psychologically more acceptable to never tackle a task than to face the possibility of falling short on performance.’

For many I meet, putting together a compelling pitch that succinctly communicates why they do what they do for who is a mighty task.

After all, your pitch is about you, your ability, and your work and its impact, so even for a non-perfectionist the possibility of it falling short on performance would be challenging.

The temptation would be to put it off until you had to pitch.

But the opposite holds true.  There is never a better time than now. It doesn’t matter if you have no immediate need to pitch. 

Your pitch is a living, breathing document

Your pitch is a living, breathing document, a representation of you that can flex in many directions. 

That means once you have the core of it bedded down, your day-to-day challenges, triumphs, and insights will add stories, colour, and depth to it.  It’ll grow as you grow.

Your pitch starts work for you the day you start work on it because just getting started on it persuades you there’s less possibility you’ll fall short.

The more you work on it the greater your reassurance, the more convinced you are about why you do what you do, and for whom.

We know that others are attracted to those who have a core belief in themselves and what they are doing.  This is the work a good pitch can do for you.  No better time to start than now.

PowerPitch & Presentation communication training is for academics; professionals and entrepreneurs to help them pitch and present the impact of their work based on purpose and contextualized storytelling. You can find more details here.

Playing to powerpitch

Playing to pitch

Playing to powerpitch

A talented artist borrowed some money from us. He couldn’t repay it, so he offered us some of his work instead. One of his paintings, Rainbow Grass, hangs in our hallway.

It defines my view of the right and left brain at work – our right-brain immersed in creativity while our left-brain frowns in critical judgement.

I’m sad that some neuro-science research has dismissed this as a myth. I’ve now learned that creativity recruits all components of the brain. Still, the painting shows what works in creativity and what doesn’t in critical judgment.

The painter told me he’d completed the work in a few hours. Time had stood still, his brush scurrying over the canvas as if guided by intuition, the shapes, dimensions, and colours choosing themselves — an ethereal experience. Finished, he stood back to survey his work.

He’d painted a little pot next to the larger flower pot of rainbow grass. What a clever idea, he told me, to mirror the rainbow grass in this smaller pot. It sits dead centre in the painting. It’s awful. The brush strokes are stick-like and contrived, the colours are muddy and it’s in complete contrast to the masterful brushwork and lilting hues of the rest of the painting.

Painterly sabotage

This act of painterly sabotage perfectly illustrates creativity and criticism at work — and at war —in one brain. A bit like a PowerPoint presentation.

In a creative state of play, the imagination knows no fetters, submits to curiosity, explores, goes where the path leads it next. There is no right or wrong. But when you start to critique your work, and introduce right and wrong, creativity sputters to a halt.

We guide and activate brainstorms. We inject participants with a revolutionary notion: think permissively; all ideas are good ideas; in this 20-minute free-fall there’s no space for negativity or criticism.

It’s fascinating. In the first five minutes, the ideas trickle. Then, with some encouragement ,a consensual energy and the ideas start flowing. As people start to enthusiastically contribute, the greater the energy, the greater the creativity and innovation. Until . . . someone says, ‘well, that won’t work because . . .’

It is as if a giant extractor fan is switched on sucking the energy and the creativity out of the room in seconds.

Energy of creativity

In the work we do to help people pitch or present based on their purpose-driven stories, we need to harness and sustain the energy of creativity.

It starts haltingly as we explore the context for a communication — the purpose for the work, who they’ll communicate with, and for what intention.

Once folk get into it, like a brainstorm, the energy and creative ideas around how to better communicate why they do what they do for whom start to flow, and this unearths the stories that support the purpose for their work.

We see it all the time. It’s part science and part magic. Because creativity is colourful, entertaining, provocative, energising, and delightful, and stories hold people’s attention.

Play at work

John Cleese says creativity is play at work. You have permission within a defined time and a particular place to engage in something indirectly related to your raison d’etre. Think of a game of tennis, of singing in a choir, or doing yoga.

For this state of play to translate into good communication, we need to put our critical thinking on hold for just a short time. It won’t undermine your insights (facts in context), rather help create an evocative communication around them that excites a response.

If you want to learn how this state of play can benefit your pitch, join us at a PowerPitch training day.

How to fall in love with your pitch

Your pitch

Forgive me for making some assumptions here. You’re a researcher, deeply focussed on what you need to be doing to prove your thesis and change the world. So thinking about your pitch, let alone falling in love with it, is the last thing on your mind.

Let’s see if we can persuade you that a love affair with your pitch is a serious business. But first, ask yourself if you fit into any of these pitch partnerships.

The Fizzler

You pitch believing your impressive research methodology is all you need to woo a prospective partner. Before you get anywhere near the promise, your intended’s eyes glaze over and they mentally leave the room.

The Commitmentphobe

You know a powerful pitch is attractive and a long term relationship will bring with it great benefits. But preparing and practicing the right pitch seems like such hard work. You leave your potential partner waiting by the phone till the last minute, and then fail to make your intentions clear.

The Adulterer

You pitch, but you’re really on a palm-fringed beach, cocktail in hand, with someone else. It’s an empty promise, even a lie,. when you say, ‘I told you I loved you, didn’t I’?

The Narcissist

In your eyes, your pitch sparkles with genius. But it’s froth, with no substance or purpose. It will only ever be of interest to the person gazing star-struck into the mirror of your own ego.

The Nerd

Diligent, earnest and deadly serious, this pitch is in dire need of a personality transplant. No matter how valuable the content, if it’s just information, it’s a characterless text book, not a riveting story.

Derby and Joan

Comfortable and smug, it does the job. But oh my, it’s boring and few want to spend time in its company.

Ginger and Fred

You’re in a long term, sustainable partnership with your pitch. It brings you purpose, joy, and untold benefits the longer you’re together and working on your relationship.

Five steps to a healthy relationship with your pitch

Get clear on your purpose

Why are you doing what you do, who are you serving, and what difference do you believe in making for humanity? Without a clearly articulated purpose, you won’t attract and retain a relationship with those who might love why you do what you do.

Be curious about your people

Who are the people looking for exactly what you have to offer? What do they want? What keeps them awake at night? What are their issues? How can you help? How will your pitch demonstrate empathy for them?

What’s your intention

A good pitch is flexible and can accommodate different intentions. When you pitch, perhaps you just want an opportunity to follow up the relationship and not an exchange of rings! If you just want permission to meet again, make that clear.

Input your value

Your value is the insight you have into your world far beyond facts and statistics. Share this intelligently with others in your pitch, and you demonstrate how you’ve changed information into knowledge and transformed knowledge into wisdom.


A great pitch contains good stories that fascinate and inform. Science shows us that our brain activity changes when we tell and hear purpose-driven story disposing us to feel empathy and trust and a willingness to co-operate. Isn’t this what we desire in a committed relationship?

When you inject these five steps into your pitch, you can’t but help fall in love with it. It is the sum of all that you are, have experienced, and can share with the world to better humanity.

We’d love to show you how to incorporate these steps into your pitch. Have a look at our latest PowerPitch programs in Sydney and Melbourne.


Nine writing tips for a knockout PhD pitch


Researchers know planning lies at the heart of successful projects, and it’s no different with writing your PhD pitch or presentation.

Your pitch is the launch pad for great communications and great results after your research. Without planning, neither of these will get far off the ground.

How you write a pitch on your sophisticated research results can make all the difference to your career, your future, or further funding.

Your PhD pitch starts with purpose and intention and ends with an outcome.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Leonardo Da Vinci.

Whoever you are and whatever you do beyond your PhD — academic, executive, sales person, community activist, journalist, teacher, continuing student — you want your words to carry your purpose and intention to influence your readers to think or act in a specific way:

  • Fund your research
  • Support your cause
  • Read your results
  • Attend your course
  • Publish your material.

What do you do if you’re not a natural writer? How do you overcome the dreaded writer’s block? Where do you find ideas when your brain is empty?

Plan writing your PhD pitch with a proven formula

You fall back on a proven formula. You plan.

Let’s set out the nine vital questions you need to ask and answer to make not just your pitch but also every writing project a winner. If you want to boost your effectiveness at writing in a professional setting, these will help you tame the tyranny of the blank screen or page.

By addressing these questions upfront, you create a writing plan that will:

  • Help you decide whether your pitch is feasible
  • Expose the gaps you must fill before you proceed
  • Give you a clear sense of purpose and direction, and set out a logical roadmap to make the writing easier.

You wouldn’t dream of exploring an unfamiliar country, region, or city without a map. Writing’s no different. Before you pen or key a word, ask and honestly answer these vital questions:

  1. Why are you about to write this pitch or presentation? (Purpose)
  2. Who are you trying to reach or influence? (Targets)
  3. What do you want them to know and think? (Intention)
  4. What do they know about you and your project right now? (Your value)
  5. Why should they listen to what you’re about to write? (Credibility)
  6. How can you best support your pitch to get your message across? (Medium)
  7. What do you want them to do after listening to your pitch? (Result)
  8. What is their attention span? (Will they respond to long, detailed descriptions, or punchy features and benefits?)
  9. What kind of language will they readily understand and respond to? (Should your tone be logical, descriptive, narrative, provocative, teasing, humorous?)

You’ll discover that answering these questions in the planning stage gets you more than half way to your goal. They will help you deliver a power-packed PhD pitch or presentation that those you want to influence will understand and respond to.

If you want to learn how to write a serious pitch for serious results, you can find out more about our next PowerPitch program for PhD candidates here.

Five myths about presenting or pitching your PhD research

pitching your PhD research

There’s no doubt that pitching your PhD research in person-to-person dialogue is a great form of persuasion, when you are working at high levels of intensity.

But as you mature in your research and professional life, you’ll find the need to pitch your research or present your findings to larger groups of people becomes more pressing. Can you seamlessly and with simple clarity get your complex message across?

Or will you fall into the trap in which so many highly educated and credentialed academics perish? In other words, explaining the methods of your research, the how, instead of its purpose, the why, and the outcome, or the what.

Speech isn’t the same as writing

Don’t let anyone tell you that speech writing is just writing by another name. True, it shares some characteristics of writing:

  • Ideas
  • Words
  • Communication (the art of getting people to act on your ideas).

But speaking has powers that writing lacks. It gives you tone, gesture, movement, emphasis, variety, and timing. And you don’t have to be Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King to learn how to prepare and deliver persuasive talks in any format or setting.

Write to be read, speak to be heard

Start with the basics—few people write like they speak, or speak like they write. Even hard-to-fathom teenagers know that a text message needs a different structure to a phone call or a face-to-face. (And if you’re anywhere near my age, be grateful!)

What makes writing and delivering a speech the second most feared fate next to death?

It’s fear itself. Would you believe though, that most of the fears that haunt speaking and speakers are just not true?

These are the five big myths about pitching your PhD research:

  1. It’s inherently stressful.
Most new experiences involve a dose of uncertainty. Remember getting on to a bike for the first time? But like millions before you, you can learn how to write your pitch and deliver it with ease, with the right tools and approach.
  2. You need an orator’s skill and courage.You just need to give the audience a little value. They don’t want perfection. They want to take away something interesting; a fact they didn’t know, or a new angle on something they did.
  3. You won’t be able to say everything you need.
The best pitches and presentations say only a little. But they say it in strong, clear, plain language. Too many speakers, especially those starting out, try to cram too much into their performance. Just a few main points are all you need. More, and you risk losing yourself and your audience.
  4. What about stage fright? 
If you’re well prepared—not over prepared—you’ll be poised, confident, and calm. You’ll have your speech either fully written out or in easy-to-follow notes as a back up. What’s the worst that can happen? You lose your place. So you apologise, and fall back on your script. Often the audience doesn’t even notice. Be honest, and few will really care. Most will actually sympathise. Some will even encourage you with applause.
  5. The audience wants to see blood.
The opposite’s true. They’ve invested time, energy, (and possibly money) in your performance. They want you to succeed. And they don’t need very much to satisfy them. No matter how small the fact or thought, if it makes them think, feel better, or feel differently, you’re a winner.

Lets dissolve those five myths about presenting or pitching your research into four secrets to writing and making a great speech:

  1. It’s only as stressful as you make it
  2. You don’t have to say everything—one main idea and two or three supporting points are enough, as long as they give value
  3. You have great value and profound stories to share
  4. Your audience wants you to succeed.

There. Who said you couldn’t pitch your all-important PhD?

Contact us here to wipe out the tension and map out the success of your next pitch or presentation challenge with our PowerPitch training for PhDs.