Sociologist James Hughes said, “The art of communication is the language of leadership.” This is especially important for individuals pitching ideas whose success often depends more on how they present their ideas rather than only what they say. Every pitch that you make is essentially an audition for opportunities. Is your pitch delivered in a way that instils confidence in you and your team? Are you able to effectively communicate your ideas or vision?
Pitching does not only revolve around entrepreneurs seeking investments. One way or the other, everyone has to pitch, whether pitching an idea to your team or presenting a change proposal to the board. You often need to convince someone to approve your ideas and give the go-ahead. Creating a good pitch is one of the most challenging parts of the idea creation process, and not everyone is competent at it. Of course, it doesn’t have to be so difficult.
Here are 9 tips on how to become a top pitcher:
- Make a strong first impression
Your pitch is determined on how you open it. This is where you can create a strong connection and impression on your audience. It will establish the purpose of your pitch and give direction to your audience. You have your audience’s full attention in the beginning, thus making it crucial to have a strong opening. Therefore, starting with just a “good morning” won’t be enough. Rather, start with a question, factor or story.
2. Know your audience
Every occasion is different – not just in terms of size but also in terms of the audience profile. It is very important for you to establish a connection and take your audience on a journey through your pitch. This can only be done when you find a common ground and establish a mutual understanding. Then only they will believe you.
3. Don’t be intimidated
It may seem that your audience is not interested in listening to you when you look at them. Don’t be intimidated by their faces, or try to guess what they are thinking. Instead keep an eye contact with them and aim to keep them intensely interested in what exactly you’re pitching.
4. Be focused and enthusiastic
Timing is important. Your audience will not like it if you go off track from your pitch and waste their time. Because of this, you need to be very focused on the core components of your pitch. Crawl out of your comfort zone and add 50 % more energy than you feel comfortable with. Your enthusiasm will not shadow your integrity, or realism. Rather, it will enhance it.
5. Practice, practice, practice
Practicing not only helps you perfect your pitch, but it will also help you to be in control of what will happen next, which will help you feel more relaxed. Practice is the key to a polished delivery, and also allows you to tweak the parts of the pitch that aren’t as effective as they could be.
6. Don’t forget to dress comfortably
When you are already nervous with the thought of pitching, wearing something you are uncomfortable in can make you feel even more stressed. Wearing clothes that you are comfortable in will help you feel at ease and there will be one less thing to worry about on the day. Feeling comfortable while looking good will give you the confidence you need.
7. Time it
Timing is very important. When your pitch is short and to-the-point, that’s where the impact is maximum. It will leave your audience wanting for more.
8. Speak slower
When you are nervous, you might want your pitch to be over as quickly as possible but speaking too fast will only make it worse. You should instead imagine how fast you speak on a regular basis, then slow it down a little. In spite of the fact that this might seem like you’re speaking too slowly and boring your audience, you will actually be speaking at a pace that will allow them to fully comprehend what you’re saying.
9. Prepare for feedback but don’t give up
Sometimes, listeners don’t immediately embrace and take action on your pitch and suggestions. In order for a pitch to be heard by someone who can act, it needs to be heard by a multitude of people. You can either go back to step one and rethink the idea, move to step two and try another audience, move to steps three through six and rebuild the pitch, or devise a way to solve the problem on your own.
A successful pitch is not just about getting people to listen, but to also take action. Now that you have read the tips to becoming a top pitcher, why not try them out?