Making A Great First Impression
“What percentage of what we discuss today, will you remember tomorrow?” asked Beth Goldstein during her Lunch and Learn. Beth is an advisor of the Summer Venture Program with an expertise in marketing and consulting. She spoke with our entrepreneurs all about forming the perfect pitch in a sales situation.
Beth explained that on average you will only remember about 30% of what someone says to you the following day. This is because of something called the forgetting curve. Basically, humans easily forget information when they are not actively trying to retain it.
So how do you make sure that the 30% of information remembered – is exactly what you want them to remember? How do you go about giving a great and memorable pitch? Beth said the secret behind it all is to practice, practice, practice! Your pitch should accurately and simply reflect your brand message. You want your customer to be able to easily understand your business and mission. “Remember, you pitch is about your customer,” said Beth. It is more important to talk about what your customers gain from your business than the actual features of it.
Once finalizing the content of the pitch, it is crucial to focus on how you deliver it. Humans are designed to use cues like tone of voice and body language in understanding a person. To be exact, the actual message or words someone says accounts for only 7% the reason why we like or do not like someone. No wonder it is so easy to misunderstand someone through text and email – without body language and tone of voice, we are lost!
The following are some tips Beth gave about delivering your pitch in the most effective way possible:
- The perfect pitch is all about timing.
Make your pitch short and sweet. Goldfish have an attention span of about 9 seconds, and humans? Well we have an attention span of 8 seconds. So be sure to get your message across in a timely manner!
- Exude confidence through your body language.
You can channel nervous energy into appropriate hand gestures. Stand with confidence, ease, and be sure to engage your body to demonstrate passion.
- Voice and facial expressions communicate more than you would think.
Practice pacing, using inflections in your voice, articulating your words, and the volume at which you speak. Furthermore, your face says a lot. Make sure that your facial expressions match the message you want to portray. If you are trying to make your customer’s excited about your product, be sure your face shows that!
- It’s all about building credibility.
Look someone in the eye when you speak to them. Of course, it is not a staring contest, but making eye contact is key to appearing confident. If you can’t look someone in the eye when speaking to them, do you really know what you’re talking about? Also, be aware of cultural norms when using eye contact.
- Try power posing once in a while.
Putting your arms in the air, feet up on your desk, or standing on tiptoes with your arms up are all ways to power pose. Although not proven scientifically, power posing is one way to boost confidence before
a speech – try it one time!
To end the session off, our entrepreneurs paired off to practice their pitches in various scenarios. “Imagine you are in line at Starbucks and your ideal customer walks in. You have about a minute to pitch your business to them,” Beth posed this scenario and others to our entrepreneurs. She wanted to simulate what it is really like to pitch your business on-the-go. After doing multiple rounds of this and receiving feedback a few times, everyone came back together to talk about what they learned.
There were a few key takeaways from this activity. First, it is important to have a brief, but compelling statement that talks about the value your business brings. You should put this near the beginning of the one-minute pitch. Second, try to gauge what is most important to your customer and focus on that in order to make the best use of their time. Third, it is difficult to start a pitch. One way of doing so is using humor to engage the person you are talking to; another way to begin is by asking a question. This helps you not only gain a better understanding of who you are talking to, but also keep your customer interested.
Overall, our entrepreneurs really appreciated the time to practice and formulate their elevator pitches. Beth’s tips resonated well with our startups. She had them thinking about the way in which they deliver their pitches. To learn more about Beth and what she does, check out her profile!