Whatever line of work you’re in it is likely that at some point, you will be called upon to pitch something. Whether you are responsible for securing business for your company; or an entrepreneur looking for investment; or hoping to get your team excited about a new initiative, pitching is a skill which many of us will need to use at some point in our professional lives.
But pitching isn’t something many people are trained to do. Sure, you may have received some workplace training on presentation skills, and you may have seen enough episodes of Mad Men to have a sense of familiarity with what makes a successful pitch. But likelihood is you are not a pitching pro like Don Draper, and you will benefit from the five pitching pointers we’ve put below.
Our eBook, 7 Tools for Giving Amazing Presentations, builds on some of these ideas in more detail. It’s important to remember that there’s no ‘magic bullet’ for pitching and these tips won’t make up for poor content, but they will help you sharpen what you have and increase your chances of success!
1. Get to the point fast
There’s a time and place for long preambles, but a pitch needs to get to the point, and fast. With ever-decreasing attention spans, it’s important that you give people a hook to bring them into your pitch right at the very beginning. Think of Steve Jobs’ pitch when trying to get Pepsi Co. executive John Scully to become CEO of Apple over dinner: “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to help me to change the world?”
2. Drive with a Map
This is a key metaphor in our Effective Communication methodology, and it’s vital when giving a pitch. Before your pitch, map out where you want to get to and why. If you know your destination, and know why it is a desirable one, it is more likely others will want to go there too. This process will also help you to clarify your priorities and cut any extraneous information from your pitch. It’s like making a sauce when cooking – you throw everything in to start with, and then boil it down to make a richer, more intense version of what you had at the beginning.
3. Take “Yes” for an Answer
A vital part of the work we do at London Speech Workshop centres on how to create a connection between you and your audience. If you’re connected to the people you’re pitching to, you should be able to read their body language and non-verbal cues throughout your presentation. Learn to read these signals that your idea has hit home. The more you continue to talk beyond that point, the more you’re likely to say something that could reverse the positive direction. Instead, once you’ve delivered the meat of your pitch, wrap it up and invite questions.
4. Believe in your idea
There’s sometimes a fine line between showing passion for your idea, business, or initiative, and showing nervous fear of missing out. Obviously, a little anxiety is understandable, but try not to let it take hold of you. Plug into your ‘why’, and turn the fear on its head. If you truly believe in your idea, then you are doing a service by sharing this great idea with people. If you can link your idea with bigger themes, like Steve Jobs did when pitching Apple, then it’s easier to get people along for the ride. He didn’t sell a computer, he sold a vision of changing the world. And remember you don’t need everyone to ‘get it’, just those relevant few who will be inspired and help take it to the next level.
5. Tell the story
In last week’s blog post, we wrote about the power of storytelling in giving presentations. The best way to get people on your side is to create an authentic emotional connection between you and your audience. Stories are a powerful way of doing this, because they engage the imagination of your listener, which means they start to get involved on every level, not just an intellectual one. And when you have people who are experiencing the story with you – its just a hop, skip and a jump away from conversion. Check out our blog post for even more tips on how to do that.
With these 5 tips, you can start to be more confident and more convincing in your pitches right away. Maybe you’ve got a bit pitch coming up, or maybe you’re just looking to become a more powerful, effective communicator.
If you are ready to really embark on your communication journey, then there is no better time to meet with one of our expert LSW coaches, trained in The Serlin Method™ and get to know how you really come across, your communication strengths, and how to raise your game on every level.