Vintage Lessons from Mad Men For Your Next Presentation


The times have changed, the styles have changed, the politics have changed, and there’s no doubt that office life and home look quite a bit different today than in the 1960’s. But people are still people, a pitch is still a pitch and an audience still craves something they can savor.

If you want to engage or leave a more memorable impression at your next public speaking endeavor, I suggest taking a few pointers from the highly popular TV show Mad Men. While it is in its last season the public speaking lessons are ageless.

Below are three clips below from “Pitch Masters” Don Draper and Peggy Olson. Each highlight powerful attributes that make a big difference in the success of a presentation and that you can start using today!

Pitch: The Carousel
Pitch Master: Don Draper

Memorable Attributes: Through storytelling, Don Draper creates a magical, nostalgic journey, making it both personal and broadly relatable. He stays in the moment and connects with his clients.


Pitch: Burger Chef
Pitch Master: Peggy Olson (by the way, the first 30 seconds are silent – it’s not your device!)

Memorable Attributes: Peggy opens by referencing a current event that immediately creates a shared experience for everyone in the room, creatively setting the mood from the start. (Note: this clip also shows a great example of introducing a speaker.)


Pitch: Heinz
Pitch Master: Don Draper vs. Peggy Olson

Memorable Attributes: Don’s presentation provokes imagination. Peggy, on the other hand, provokes emotion by asking questions. Both are competing for the same account, let us know in the comments who did a better job and why!


What makes Don Draper and Peggy Olson so believable… even memorable?

  1. Passion, they convey their belief in the product
  2. Spontaneity, conversational style
  3. Storytelling, revealing personal information
  4. Listening, incorporating client language into the pitch
  5. Smiling, inviting everyone into the conversation
  6. Connecting with the client, you are compelled to listen to what they say
  7. Standing up and taking command
  8. Supporting, uncluttered visuals
  9. Clothing, not too much, right on par with the client
  10. Commanding the room, when Draper or Olson speaks, you want to listen!

Learn to use them today to engage your audience and achieve the same impact as these pitch masters!

Haven’t Met Don Draper and Peggy Olsen? Learn more about the Mad Men AMC TV Series!

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About Author

Stephanie Scotti

Stephanie Scotti is a strategic communication adviser specializing in high-stake presentations. She has 25-plus years experience of coaching experience and eight years teaching presentation skills for Duke University. She has provided presentation coaching to over 3,000 individuals in professional practices, Fortune 500 companies, high-level government officials and international business executives.

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