The Perfect Pitch – maximising your impact on the day!
Recently, I was asked to speak as part of a panel of experts on the topic of Pain-free Pitching for an Oxford Independent Consultants event. The ambitious part of the invitation for me was to get a message across in just 5 minutes. What could I communicate of real value in that time when I spend up to six hours preparing clients for such a challenge as this? Here is what I shared, plus a little extra; I hope you find it of value and please ask questions if you want to know more.
How do you make an impact on the day? Firstly, start by asking yourself: why is there even a face-to-face pitch when you’ve spent hours, days or weeks putting your genius into a wonderful proposal?
“Emotion trumps reason” Simon Sinek
My thought on this? Even in this highly digital age, people engage people, not paper or product. In the words of Simon Sinek, ’emotion trumps reason’, so you’re in the room to answer their ‘why?’ Why choose you?
I’m going to cover just 3 of many elements:
- Prioritise and
How do you prepare so that on the day, you are really engaging and ready to maximise your impact with your audience? If you want to instil confidence, you need to be confident. That will be easier if you can eliminate as many unknowns from the environment as possible. Find out what you can.
- Where is, and how big is the space?
- How many people will be in the room and who are they?
- Are you expected to do a presentation and if so, what technology will be required?
- Will you be sitting or standing?
- What else can you do to ensure a seamless setup for a great first impression?
Is there a key person or member of their support staff you can liaise with? Eliminate as many of the unknowns to increase your confidence. PREPARE!
Secondly, prioritise. On the day, you can’t regurgitate the entire document so what really matters – to them, not to you? What will make your proposition stand out for them?
I’d like to suggest a small exercise for this: when you’re practising, speak aloud in 3 sentences what summarises the very essence, the heart of what you believe your audience needs to hear that differentiates you from the competition.
- Is it the what, the why and the where?
- Or maybe the who, the how and the when?
- How can you condense it to 3 sentences?
Then, speak it aloud in just one sentence. What one message does the audience need to hear?
If you can do this, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got 30 minutes or 3 hours, you will be able to keep that core message at the very centre. A focused message will ensure you’re maximising your potential to engage with your audience.
Finally, how do you ensure you’re really present in the room? How do you maximise your body, your voice in order to really engage with your audience? Firstly, you need to ensure that you’re free from tension. That you’re relaxed because tension affects the voice and it will affect your ability to connect with your audience. I’ve got a series of exercises I do to help clients prepare and use them myself before I present. Find what works for you but do a body check and ensure you’re relaxed and smiling.
Then make sure your posture is strong so that you’re projecting power and confidence. There’s a short video here you can watch to learn this. I call it the Bespoken Technique of Posture. Why is it important? Would you trust a chair that appeared wobbly? You might hesitate to invest in a person who looks or sounds a bit wobbly too! Plus, whether you’re sitting or standing, you need to ensure that you’re supporting your voice in the room so that you are totally present, projecting and engaged.
Can I also suggest that you stay off your phone for at least half an hour before the pitch so that your body is open and energised? I’ve got a link to an Amy Cuddy TED talk in the same article here about power posing. Some form of stretching or power posing will ensure your balance of energy is right when you’re in the room and you’re present and engaged.
Summing up, that’s three P’s: prepare the environment as much as you can, prioritise your message so that you’re focused and be present so that you’re projecting power and confidence.
And when you end, remember to thank your audience for their gracious attention! Thank you for reading this article; I’d love to read and respond to your thoughts.