From PR directors to entrepreneurs, good pitching skills can be vital to career success. If you can’t present to potential investors and clients with real flair and conviction, you’ll never get the chance to fulfil your potential – so to help you achieve all you can, SL contributor Georgina Blaskey shares the golden rules for pitching like a pro…
Do Your Homework
Your brief needs to relevant and address all your audience’s needs and concerns – so get to know who you’re pitching to. However fantastic your presentation, if it isn’t tailored to their business it could lead them to believe you can’t deliver what they want and are incapable of listening to and assessing their requirements. In-depth research shows commitment and understanding from the get-go.
Keep It Simple
Don’t overload a prospective client with jargon that leaves them feeling confused – or worse, stupid. The average person’s attention span is around eight seconds (that’s a second less than a goldfish), so make sure your pitch is concise. To stand out, you need to be dynamic yet simple, interesting yet on point. Repeat key messages or words so they come away with a clear picture of what you’re offering.
Break It Down
Treat the whole presentation as a series of scenes in a one-act play. Introduce each scene with a clear direction then build to key points, finishing with a concrete ending. Any dull details can be put in a handout which you can leave behind. This will also make the handout more interesting as it contains new and relevant information, cross-referenced with memorable moments from the presentation.
Don’t Be Afraid To Boast
Anyone considering your pitch will want to see your track record. Share your history of relevant successes or how you’ve overcome difficulties in comparable situations in the past. Take along examples of your work and demonstrate how you have proven yourself.
Ask Them Questions
Showing curiosity and interest in their business is of paramount importance in a pitch because it demonstrates you’re keen to understand their needs. Asking questions also encourages a two-way conversation which helps put everyone at ease. We all like to see people enthusiastic and excited about the prospect of a future business relationship, so show your passion and they’ll be more likely to want to work with you.
Practice Until It’s Perfect
No one wants to sit through a pitch punctuated with “errrs”, “umms” and “hmms”. Don’t just check whether your PowerPoint presentation is running smoothly, take time to learn your lines too. Being prepared helps dispel nerves and will create a better impression. If you’re a small business, you need to come across as professional as possible, so be prepared and show how seriously you’re taking this pitch.
Call Them Names
As in, their actual names. Human interaction is based on responsiveness – you’re more likely to react positively to someone using your name, than being addressing as ‘“Errr, excuse me”. The same works in a pitch. Look at who you’re pitching to and address each person by name. Remember to introduce the other members of your team and explain what they’ll be working on.
Suggest A Deadline
Has the pitch gone well? Can you feel a frisson of interest? If you think your pitch was a success, don't be afraid to push for a decision. You might like to suggest your services are in demand and there are existing deadlines to work around to gently encourage a deal.