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Agency Culture Marketing

How to stop big egos obstructing your pitch


By Emma Hughes, Content strategist

April 10, 2024 | 4 min read

Sopheon’s Emma Hughes has been in some big rooms with big egos. Here’s how she *sometimes* manages pugnacious pitch pride.

Inflated egos clashing

Allow me to briefly set the scene: you’re pitching creative that’s good, really good; you’ve nailed the brief, the research backs up the creative, and you have in the palm of your hand what you believe to be the winning idea. You breeze through your deck; it’s flawless; you smile, doing your best not to appear smug; you await the standing ovation, looking out to your adoring audience to spot your key stakeholder looking bewildered at best, insulted at worst. I’ve been there; it’s awkward, and it hurts a bit. The feedback surmises it wasn’t the idea the room was expecting, and more significantly, it wasn’t theirs.


Whether you pitch an idea internally or to a prospective client, our old friend, ego, usually pops in with their opinions and suggestions, often complicating the process.

So, how do we manage all the egos in the room and deliver a pitch that keeps the brief and the desired outcome center stage?

Acknowledge the ego factor

It’s helpful to understand the role ego plays in the pitch process. Egos are delicate and easily bruised, and in a pitch scenario where individuals are emotionally invested in their ideas, egos can derail the conversation if left unchecked. We all want to be heard, we all want to be a part of the conversation, and some of us might be more deeply invested than others.

Build trust

Building trust through personal interaction is one of the most effective ways to avoid ego clashes. Take the time to understand your audience’s needs, motivations, and aspirations, both professionally and personally. You can build mutual respect and collaboration by demonstrating genuine interest and empathy, laying the foundation for productive discussions. Ideally, you’ll build up some trust before the pitch, so you’re not going in completely cold. No, this isn’t the chance to let your inner stalker loose, but do consider ways to offer value pre-pitch – this could be as simple as sharing a piece of content you think they might find useful.

Focus on collaboration, not competition

In the heat of a pitch, it’s easy for egos to take center stage, leading to a competitive rather than collaborative atmosphere. However, reframing the conversation around shared goals and collective success can diffuse tensions and encourage open dialogue. Emphasize the importance of working together towards a common objective rather than asserting individual agendas.

Lead with confidence over arrogance

Confidence is a key attribute of successful pitch presenters, but the fine line between confidence and arrogance is worth being mindful of. While confidence inspires trust and credibility, arrogance can alienate your audience and undermine your message. Maintaining a healthy level of humbleness, acknowledging the contributions of others, and remaining open to feedback and alternative viewpoints are the ways to win hearts and minds.

Divert ego clashes with diplomacy

Despite your best efforts, ego clashes may still arise during the pitch process. When tensions escalate, it’s crucial to approach the situation with diplomacy and tact. Acknowledge the validity of opposing viewpoints, seek common ground, and focus on finding mutually beneficial solutions. Remember, the goal is not to win arguments but to achieve the best outcome for the collective. There’s no ‘i’ in… yes, yes, you know the rest.

Follow-Up the conversation

After the pitch, following up with thoughtful communication that reinforces the collaborative nature of your relationship and the shared objectives goes a long way in proving your commitment to the cause.

Emma Hughes is a copywriter with more than 20 years of brand and content marketing experience.

Agency Culture Marketing

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