MBA 6213, Dr. Rob Austin McKee

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Pitch Assignment

 

A young woman was enrolled in a community college US government course I took a few years

ago. In class, she constantly mentioned environmental issues and proclaimed herself to be supremely

environmentally conscious. Throughout the semester, she was unapologetically and unrelentingly

self-aggrandizing and condescending. While many of the other students in the class undoubtedly

supported the spirit of her message, they grew increasingly hostile toward her because of her

communication style. I would imagine this young woman had already modified her lifestyle as much

as possible to accommodate her beliefs regarding environmental impact, sustainability, and

consumerism. However, she failed to realize that her greatest opportunity for making a difference in

the world was in influencing others to adopt more environmentally-friendly practices. Thus, despite

general support among the class for the content of her message, the delivery of her message irritated

others and sabotaged her ability to impact them and, thus, the world. This outcome was unfortunate

but avoidable.

What are you passionate about? What ideas would you like to promote among your peers and

the greater world? Why should the world care? How does the delivery of your message affect your

persuasiveness and success?

Your task for this assignment is to write and deliver a perfect 4-minute speech concerning

something you are passionate about. Your goal is to inspire the audience (i.e., me and your peers) to

change some aspect of ourselves, such as our behaviors, attitudes, opinions, beliefs, or values. You

should inspire us to want to learn more about your topic. You should convince us that your

behaviors, attitudes, opinions, beliefs, or values regarding the issue are right and worthy of adopting

as our own. Simply describing your passion is insufficient.

The purpose of the Pitch Assignment is to provide you an opportunity to hone your verbal and

written communication skills, which are cornerstones of effective leadership and the management of

organizational behavior. The importance of the quality of your verbal and written communication

cannot be overstated for your career and life. As such, this assignment explicitly requires you to

craft, examine, and develop the verbal and nonverbal content of your speech. Beyond improving

communication as a leadership skill, this project simultaneously gives you a platform to persuade

others about the importance of something you care about.

This assignment comprises 3 deliverables. The syllabus provides the relevant due dates. The

percentages below reflect the proportion of your grade determined by each deliverable.

1) Pitch Scripts 40%

2) Pitch Videos 50%

3) Peer Evaluations 10%

 

 

MBA 6213, Dr. Rob Austin McKee

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Deliverable 1 is your Pitch Script. As the name implies, it is your script (i.e., the written text of

what you will say) for the pitch you will deliver. It should adhere to all the formal requirements

outlined herein and follow university standards for spelling and grammar. Stylistically, it should be

clear, concise, and compelling. The language should be colloquial rather than academic. Your pitch

script should be just 575-625 words.

The first 50-75 words of the pitch should, as a distinct paragraph, provide an introduction to you

and your topic. What is your name? What do you do? How did you become passionate about the

subject area of your pitch? Why are you talking to us? Most importantly, let us (i.e., the audience)

know the purpose of your pitch. Directly indicate to us what idea, social cause, behavior, attitude,

opinion, belief, or value you would like us to adopt. Also, please explicitly dedicate your pitch to

someone or something important to you and your passion (e.g., “I’d like to dedicate this pitch to my

fourth-grade teacher, Ms. Mills, who taught me the importance of mathematics.”)

The remainder of your pitch should illuminate your passion. I would encourage you to be as

specific as possible when identifying your passion. If your passion is fitness, give us a specific sport,

routine, or regimen. If your passion is nutrition, give us specific dietary guidelines. If your passion is

traveling, recommend a specific destination. Also, I would strongly encourage you to discuss a passion

more intriguing and less conventional than fitness, diet, or traveling. For instance, you could discuss

your stance on some socioeconomic, environmental, or governmental issue. If such matters don’t

inspire you, you could discuss your passion for working with animals, teaching underprivileged

children how to read, playing classical piano, growing your own tomatoes, or almost anything else.

Although the topic of your pitch is open-ended, several topics may be inappropriate depending on

how they are framed (e.g., coitus, religion, and anything derogatory, racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.).

If you have any questions about the suitability of your topic, please speak with me.

Before you begin to write, it would be helpful to consider the structure of your pitch. Beyond

the introductory paragraph, you are advised to divide your pitch into three sections, each composed

of three to five main points. Below I provide loose recommendations for the first two sections, but

the final “call-to-arms” section is required. This structure will help you to organize and later

internalize the content of your pitch.

The first section of your pitch might relate your personal interest in the topic via a story wherein

you, another person, or some other entity (e.g., a company) act(s) as the protagonist, thereby

showing some personal connection to your passion. For example, if your passion is maintaining a

connection to your culture through the elders of your family, you might tell a story about how you

and your grandmother used to make some specific food item together when you were a kid. The

second section might discuss your passion on a more macro scale. Thus, you might cover the history

leading up to its current state, what might happen in the future, and the ramifications of adhering to

or disregarding your ideas regarding the subject. You might provide statistics or pose and answer a

rhetorical question. The third section should convey your “call-to-arms” to your audience, wherein

you ask us to change in some way, reinforce why we should change, and provide us guidance as to

how to change.

 

 

MBA 6213, Dr. Rob Austin McKee

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When crafting your pitch, remember that each element (section, paragraph, sentence) should

serve a specific purpose. You should not have a single run-on paragraph comprising your entire

pitch. Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence, and every sentence within each paragraph

should relate to and support that topic sentence. Remember that your ultimate purpose is to compel

your audience to change. Anything that does not serve that purpose should be revised or eliminated.

Please ensure that you cite any sources of information you use to write your pitch. Do not directly

quote any sources unless you are using a short excerpt of perhaps 10-15 words. Even then, rewrite it

in your own words whenever possible. Generally, the only instance wherein I would recommend

quoting a passage directly is if you are quoting a famous or otherwise significant person.

Deliverable 2, your Pitch Video, is due one week after your Pitch Script. It requires that you

record and upload a 4-minute video of your Pitch Presentation. Your Pitch Script provides your

dialog for the video, but you do not have to follow it verbatim. You will not be penalized for

deviating from your script as long as you deliver a compelling speech. A link is provided in the

syllabus to a Google Drive folder where you can upload your video. Video captured via cell phone

or laptop is satisfactory if the video quality and audio quality are acceptable. Videos should be

recorded in a quiet and well-lit location. You are not required to wear professional attire, though you

may want to do so if you believe it will help you gain a higher grade. Your video should be one

continuous take with no edits, special effects, or added sounds. Do not use any props, including

papers, graphs, charts, signs, furniture, or any other items.

Try to position your camera lens around chest to eye-level so that the focus of your video is your

face. Your face, full torso (down to at least your mid-thigh), and arms should be well-illuminated and

visible. The viewer should always be able to see your hands, even if you allow your arms to hang

straight down or hold them out perpendicular to your body. So, as a rule of thumb, position yourself

relative to the camera such that if you hold your arms out perpendicular to your body and allow

them to fall to your sides, you can see your fingertips through the entire range of motion. You

should be standing freely unless you are medically unable to do so.

When delivering your pitch, you can read the script from a page or screen not visible to the

audience, but your audience should not be able to tell that you are doing so. I will deduct substantial

points from your grade (up to 80% of the credit for your Pitch Video upload) if you are simply and

obviously reading your script rather than pitching your script.

I urge you to record and review your pitch several times as that simple practice is one of the best

techniques to improve your verbal and nonverbal delivery. It is likely that it will take longer than you

think to record a good video, so I strongly advise you not to wait until the due date to begin

recording takes. Also, please note that it may take considerable time to upload your video depending

on your connection speed, file size, etc., so plan accordingly. When uploading your video, please

ensure that you name your video file using your first and last name only. For example, I would title

my video file “Rob McKee.” Also, please ensure that you upload you video to the correct subfolder

corresponding to your within Google Drive corresponding to your class or group (if applicable). Do

not change any of the Google Drive folder settings. Doing so may prevent other students from

 

 

MBA 6213, Dr. Rob Austin McKee

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uploading their videos. Google Drive maintains a record of collaborators who make changes to

folder settings. The submission date and link are provided in the syllabus. Please note that the

submission link is not the same as the Video Introduction link.

Deliverable 3 will be discussed after Deliverables 1 and 2 have been submitted.

Pitch Assignment Rubric

Expert Proficient Apprentice Novice

Verbal Communication

Grammar and language are excellent

Grammar and language are good

Grammar and language are acceptable

Grammar and language are poor

Nonverbal Communication

Facial expressions, body language, and vocal tone are

excellent and strongly reinforce the topic

Facial expressions, body language, and vocal tone are good and reinforce the topic

Facial expressions, body language, and vocal tone are

acceptable and mildly reinforce the topic

Facial expressions, body language, and vocal tone are

poor and fail to reinforce the topic

Does not seem to be reading script

Rarely seems to be reading script

Occasionally seems to be reading script

Constantly seems to be reading script

Structure and Flow

Topic is specific and focused

Topic is generally focused Topic is apparent but lacks

focus Topic is unspecified or

vague

Includes a clear introduction of speaker and topic of 50-

75 words

Includes an introduction of speaker and topic of <50 or

>75 words

Includes some form of introduction of <25 or >100

words

No distinct introductory paragraph, or paragraph

>125words

Introduction includes a formal dedication

Introduction does not include a formal dedication

Clearly seeks to change audience’s behavior,

attitudes, opinions, beliefs, or values

Generally seeks to change audience’s behavior,

attitudes, opinions, beliefs, or values

Somewhat seeks to change audience’s behavior,

attitudes, opinions, beliefs, or values

Does not seek to change audience’s behavior,

attitudes, opinions, beliefs, or values

Sequence of ideas presented in the pitch is logical

Sequence of ideas makes sense

Sequence of ideas meanders but is acceptable

Sequence of ideas wanders aimlessly

Topic sentences readily distinguish different sections

Topic sentences distinguish different sections

Different sections are moderately identifiable

Different sections are not identifiable

Well-defined call-to-arms with 3-5 specific and

actionable steps Good call-to-arms Acceptable call-to-arms No call-to-arms

No redundancy present Little redundancy present Some redundancy present Much redundancy present

No plagiarism present Inclusion of any plagiarized content will result in a failing grade and a Academic Honesty

report being filed with the University

Length 575-625 words <550 or >650 words <525 or >700 words <500 or >750 words

Timing ~4m ~15s more or less than 4m ~30s more or less than 4m ~1m more or less than 4m

Video Quality

Video contains no edits, special effects, props, or

added sounds Video contains edits, special effects, props, or added sounds

Video shows upper and lower torso to mid-thigh

Video shows only a limited portion of the student’s face and torso such that the full range of expressions and body language is not visible

Video and audio quality are good with a well-lit and

quiet location Video or audio quality is poor such that the student cannot be seen or heard clearly

File Upload

File is uploaded by the deadline to the correct folder and named using

student’s first and last name only, no changes made to

folder settings

File is not uploaded correctly

Note: “Verbal Communication” and “Structure and Flow” apply to the Pitch Script. All categories apply to the Pitch Video.

 

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