In the business world at some point, we all have to pitch — whether that is pitching a new proposal to your team or management team, your business plan to an investor, your product or services to a potential client, or even pitching yourself for a promotion or a new job! At some point, we all need to persuade somebody to embrace our ideas and goals.
Streamlining the perfect pitch is often daunting and a typical ‘trip up’ stage when it comes to progression — especially when you’re already working hard at the ‘day job’. Here are my quick top tips to produce the perfect pitch.
Understand What You’re Offering
This may seem straight forward, however, a common pitfall of pitches is that they don’t concisely and clearly explain what they are offering or what success looks like.
If you cannot summarize this in one sentence, go back to the drawing board. Simplifying your aim will allow you to minimize rambling and ensure you are clear in your message.
Good questions to consider are:
- What problem is your product/service solving?
- What is your overall goal?
- What is unique about what you are offering?
Once you have a clear answer to this established in your own mind, the pitch will be a lot easier to design.
Give Yourself Ample Time to Prepare
Don’t be tempted to leave designing your pitch until the last minute. It’s an easy thing to do when so many other priorities are on your ‘to do’ list. I often know exactly how I want to pitch, so I think it won’t take long. But it does!
Once you start pulling the features of your pitch together, you’ll be surprised how many questions arise. Remember that you need to have plenty of information to back up your proposal, as you’re bound to be asked in depth questions about it at the end of the pitch.
Stick to the Point
It’s no secret that now more than ever we crave excitement and engagement to maintain our attention spans. The same goes for pitches. Get to the point quickly. Harvard Business School’s ‘Elevator Pitch Builder’ is a great structure to build an effective, concise pitch that will grab your listener’s attention.
Often, we’re pitching about products, services, and ideas we’re passionate about. It’s, therefore, easy to divert or explore a particular area in too much detail. Avoid this! There will be opportunity for questions, reflection and details later on. The general aim of the pitch is to establish:
- The problem
- The solution/USP
Include a Catchphrase
Have you ever wondered how you can listen to a song a couple of times and know almost all of the lyrics?
Our psychology is programmed to remember short, catchy phrases. While lots of statistical data can be easily forgotten in a pitch, an innovative catch phrase can be a great way to leave your mark in the listener’s mind.
A powerful tagline will also prove useful for general marketing and branding, so spend time finding the right one.
To deliver an effective pitch, you need to be able to deliver your message with oodles of confidence. If you don’t present as being confident in what you’re offering, who else will believe in it?!
You must demonstrate a thorough understanding of what you’re pitching and why your solution is the solution to the problem.
If you have a friend or colleague that will listen to your pitch, have a go and ask them for constructive criticism. Alternatively, record yourself and listen back to how you sound and how you could improve. Ask yourself:
- Would you believe in your pitch if you were watching it?
- Which parts sounded good? Why did they sound good?
Be Prepared for the Follow-up
It’s not uncommon to become so absorbed in perfecting the pitch that you neglect the follow up.
Preparation for the follow up is as important as the pitch itself. There is nothing worse than delivering an exceptional pitch only to find out later that the opposition got the gig because you weren’t off the mark quickly enough!
As a starting point, consider the questions below:
- If it goes positively, what response do you expect?
- What questions might your audience have?
Taking the time to plan out how you’ll navigate the response can be the difference between success and failure.
Most importantly, enjoy yourself! Landing a pitch (for whatever reason) is usually a sign that you’ve been doing something right or you’re offering something the audience is intrigued to hear more about. Seize the moment to show off exactly why. Carpe diem!