The Architect Pitch is not the same as a formal design presentation or a ‘crit.’ It’s basically about selling, when clear communication and connection with the audience is key. This isn’t something architects are taught, unfortunately. But the people architects often have to present to want to know very quickly if a design or concept will make them money. So, while as an architect you need to be passionate and brimming over with good ideas, you also need to show you understand the bigger picture and you can bring real value to a client’s business.
Architects often worry that they don’t have enough of a range of built projects. Don’t worry about this. Clients are looking for a practice whose vision is a good fit with their goals. Plan your pitch by asking yourself what is the biggest single problem you’re trying to solve and make sure this ‘key message’ comes at the start of the presentation, not at the end.
But a pitch isn’t just about selling your practice—it’s largely about selling yourself. How do your experience, knowledge, and team give you an edge over your competitors?
For example, an architect who knows his or her way around the planning system is a godsend for many clients and getting your foot in the door this way can work better than talking about an idea that’s unproven and therefore risky.
Using humour to tell your story often works well. Obviously you want to be taken seriously but you also need to come across as a human being. This comes up again and again in pitches: if you come across as likeable and someone who’d be fun to work with, that’s half the battle.
When you’re pitching (and this is true for all presenting) look and sound confident. Nerves are permissible but don’t sound desperate. You’re keen but not falling over yourself to please. Adjust your pitch to your audience. If there’s more than one person, you need to know who in the room has the hiring power but don’t ignore everyone else. And don’t become too wrapped up in the detail and don’t read from a prepared script.
Malcolm Gladwell claims it takes 10,000 hours to become really accomplished at something. That’s an exaggeration, but the more you practise the better you’ll be. And try and practise in front of someone who can give you critical feedback i.e. not your best friend and don’t worry about being a bit nervous. Showing your vulnerability is one of the most powerful ways to win over an audience, provided it’s authentic.
And finally, listen carefully to the feedback you get.
Maybe you got too wrapped up in the detail. Maybe you just need to make a few small tweaks before approaching someone else. Or maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
But remember this: the more you pitch, the better you’ll be.
The Architect Pitch is a chance to improve, strengthen your resolve, and win that job.
Del Hossain, Charlie Green, Roger Black, Carolyn Larkin, and David Hamilton are on the panel for the next Architect Pitch on December 2nd. Tickets can be booked here.