Pitch, Pitcher, Pitches!
Recently, I participated in the 2012 Rocket Pitch at Babson College and although I witnessed many good presentations, some could have been better. This is because while many know the basics of pitching, few pitch convincingly. But it’s not a big deal at all and the following five pointers should help you rock the pitch!
1. Start and stop with a bang – If your audience is ready to listen to a new idea that means they are curious. Don’t be predictable and informative and ruin their curiosity. Tell a persuasive story and make them feel like characters in your story so that when you talk about your customer pain point, they will not just hear it but feel it too. And when its time, launch an ending that makes people think, change their perceptions and inclined towards action.
2. Don’t make the audience read, make ’em think – If you have less text on your presentation, you manage to achieve four crucial victories.
A. The audience needs lesser time to read the content and has more time to listen to your passion, pitch and purpose, without any distractions.
B. The audience is here to learn, not read. How attentive would you be if your teacher always wrote paragraphs on the blackboard?
C. Reading takes more time than any other mode of communication to learn about ideas; even more if its new and innovative ones.
D. The words you speak should not have to fight with words on the slide for the audience’s attention.
3. Speak with your body language too – The best pitchers use more than words. You don’t need to run and fly all around the place, but don’t bury your hands in your pockets and stand like a post. Use your hands to point, focus and guide. Move around flexibly but not distractingly. Importantly, never show your back to the audience. Worse, never talk if and when your back is facing the audience. Remember you are talking to the audience, not the screen. If you need to point to or look at the screen, maintain a side profile.
Face and eye contact is equally important. A strong eye contact is equivalent to a firm handshake. So don’t just look at one person or place. Scan the audience and settle on one face for a few seconds. Hopefully you will get a nod or smile and then scan around again and settle on another face. Maintain an even and expressive eye contact as this will also help you impart your intensity and passion.
4. Wise with your words – The few minutes you get to talk to a prospective customer should make you churn out the best possible, refined, proof read content at all times. Would you ever see words such as “You know, Like, Basically, Actually, Essentially” on a brochure? Brevity is the essence of our generation and hence we need to keep it slim and simple. Also, such phrases indicate that you are either buying time, filling gaps or not fluent enough. Don’t just talk. Communicate.
5. Practise, practise, practise – It’s really sad when some presentation slides are awesome, but their presenters aren’t. Not every one is a natural speaker, but it’s very easy to know who practiced and who did not. Regardless of whether you are a seasoned salesman or a novice, practice can only make you better.
The goal is not to memorize and recall, but practice enables familiarity with the structure and helps you if and when you forget a line in between. Remember, nobody is going to give you extra marks for having done a decent job without much practice. And, please don’t read from a paper or book while pitching a new idea. If you are not able to present without help, you are probably not ready to present yet. Believe in and know your pitch before you start telling the world and you will see the difference.
This year, the Entrepreneurship week is being celebrated on November 12 – 18, 2012. Go get ‘em, pitchers!