Foundhers: How To Pitch
From new business ideas to job interviews, to networking - life’s a pitch. There are so many situations in your professional and sometimes personal life in which you have to sell yourself and what you stand for. 'Pitching' doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to project yourself, even if you know what you have to say, share or sell is really worth talking about. As journalists and businesswomen, we have done a fair bit of pitching in our time, and the simple tricks below will help you nail your message and wow your audience, whoever they may be.
State your top line
It sounds simple but so often in interviews and presentations we see people bury their lead. What is the one single point you want to get across? Establish it, and say it, early and frequently. A lengthy preamble may feel like you are setting the scene but your audience will be lost and miss what you are really trying to tell them. So find your headline and sock it to them. If you can sum your message up in one sentence, then that is the opening line of your pitch.
Know your stuff
Sharp business people can spot a phoney a mile off, and those that can’t will find out the hard way anyway. So make sure you are fully clued up when it comes to your product, message or topic. You are probably going to face pretty hard questions during the pitch. Are you ready for them? Do you know your figures, stats and history? Do your homework and you will keep your cool.
Step away from the PowerPoint
If you are a reluctant public speaker, then it can seem tempting to craft a beautiful presentation to take the focus off of you. This is a bad idea. While visual aids are important and presenting facts and figures graphically is impressive, spelling out every word of your presentation on a slide will only serve to distract your audience. They will zone you out and miss what is really on show, and that is your skills and ability. Stick to one or two images on a slide or some keywords and then elaborate on why they are on display.
People buy People.
Be yourself. Whether you are interviewing for a dream job or pitching for funding for your business, the people on the other side of the table are buying into you as a person first and foremost. No one wants to employ or do a deal with someone who appears fake or flaky. So relax, talk from the heart and let your enthusiasm show through.
Why do they need you?
Your USP is what has got you this far – so now you have the ear of the hot shots, explain why you or your business is vital to their success. People are self-interested, so explain how you can help them and you are more than halfway there. Be honest, don’t overstate your abilities, but show them why they would be fools to let you walk away.
Fake it till you make it (confidence that is)
We all feel nervous ahead of an important meeting or presentation, it's what makes us bring our A Game. But letting nerves get in the way is a sure way to mask your abilities. So find a way to fake some confidence. It might be a red lipstick, your favourite shoes, a pep talk from your best friend or a quick glance at a photo of your kids before you go in – whatever it is, find something to boost your confidence, and let you put the whole event into perspective.
Now, go show them what you're made of!