You are always pitching and you get what you pitch for.
I remember when I went in for my first pitching competition. I had attended a one-day workshop on pitching and then over the next 2 weeks, I put together what I thought was an engaging pitch.
The day approached. There were to be two heats. Heat one. 40 people pitched. The best 10 were picked to pitch that afternoon in front of a panel of dragons and an audience of around 150.
I remember during heat one, thinking “If I don’t get picked, it won’t look good, as I am a public speaking coach, I am meant to be good at this”, aren’t I?
So, there I was, one of ten pitchers waiting to be called to the stage.
My time came. I walked onto stage. Looked at the audience and panel of 5 dragons watching and waiting for me to start. I took a deep breath.
I was slightly nervous but I started well. As I continued, I got into the flow. The moment came four minutes into the pitch, when I was to ask for a request. I remembered what a coach said to me earlier “ask for the thing you want the most”.
I paused and then said to everyone “I was told to ask for something that I want, that is really important to me, so what I really want is a husband.”
Well, the room erupted with a huge roar of laughter as everyone had been so serious up until then. It took a while for the room to quieten but when it did, I said “and failing that, I would like to ask for contacts to work with women in leadership roles in the corporate arena.” I received a very big applause.
The judges gave me individual feedback and I was placed fourth overall.
From this experience and since then pitching for new clients, business and funding, here are 5 tips for pitching that I hope will help:
- Do your research
Know the fundamentals about your market. You need to know your audience from top to bottom. What are their challenges? What problems keep them up at night? What are they looking for? What is your solution? What are the benefits of going with you?
The aim is the core of marketing. Focus on the benefits not the features. We aren’t interested in a washing machine having the latest technology, we want to know that we will get clean, fresh, environmentally friendly clothes.
All the above and much more should be covered within your pitch to show that you have done your research, your homework and that you are a credible person to invest in.
- Keep it simple
Just as when presenting, a simple structure enables not only you to be able to deliver without notes and be able to come across natural but it also enables the listeners to follow your pitch with ease. Keep it simple.
- Show the passion
Don’t hold back. Show how passionate you are about your subject matter. People really love enthusiasm. It is infectious. Your content needs to hit the right spot as well but ‘people buy into people,’ so be alive with your passion and speak from the heart.
- What problem do you solve?
Be really clear on what problem you solve. What makes you the right person to solve it? What makes you unique and why nobody else can do it the way you do it? When you are a contribution to the world, the world contributes back, so be really clear how you make a difference.
Think about your competitors and what they offer. Make sure you highlight what makes you different, better in comparison. What is your unique selling point?
Dave McClure of 500 Startups said “Your job isn’t to hide your competition, it is to figure out how you can be better and different to them.”
- Practice, Practice, Practice
Lastly, practice your pitch - get feedback. This is essential. You want to know, was it easy to listen to, did you answer the most relevant points? Did you manage to deliver the pitch in an engaging and confident manner? Will they be convinced that you have the solution to the problem and that you are the right person to deliver whatever it is you’re are offering?
I want to wish you happy pitching and remember “you always get what you pitch for.”
So, did I get what I pitched for? A husband. Well not quite. But I did get a 7-year relationship that is still going strong.
Is your pitching ability holding you back from selling your products or attracting funding for your business? In the course of just one day, Elaine Powell can help you to deliver a powerful pitch for any context.