Win or lose…
The purpose of a ‘pitch’ is to tell your story so others will be convinced to join you or purchase from you.
When you have a passionate or powerful story (pitch) to tell, it is easy to become overly involved with your own experience and to forget to focus on effective communication strategies and articulating the pitch so that the listener can feel an emotional connection on a personal level. If it is not relatable, the audience will not connect with you.
Ask your-self is your story so introspective and internal there is no personal place or connection for the audience. Remember your audience is always consciously or unconsciously asking them themselves, ‘What’s in it for me?’
Powerful stories are not just about events or products or services. Always the audience seeks to relate to you, based upon their motives, fears, feelings and experience during the pitch! They think about how this may affect them personally, professionally, their company, and in the case of a pitch the world.
It is about the impact of your presentation and storytelling skills – the better they are the more audience wants to know and how to relate this to their own lives.
Here is an overview of the process I use to develop and write a pitch. This methodology helped win a Winter Olympics for Canada and win business and raise in excess of $350 million dollars. In order to be effective use each of the elements described.
Defining your target audience?
What is the purpose of this pitch and then define a specific outcome and stick to it.
- Is it to influence, and inform key decision makers?
- To get a commitment from the individual or organization?
- To create an opportunity to follow up?
- To make the sale?
Research; the listening audience: age, job function, cultural bias, experience, education; and – what do they already know about what you are going to speak about? Be specific about who will be in the room when you pitch?
Writing the story/pitch
When writing the story/pitch: Decide upon a story structure -Timeline – Geographic – Micro to Macro. This will automatically give you a place to begin and help you organize your writing.
Based upon the results of your research of the listening audience profile, redefine your purpose.
Based upon your decided purpose ~ what is your key message?
What elements can you add from your anecdotal stories or from your professional or personal experience or from your educational background?
Content research: latest technology, information, or theories known about your product or service.
What tools will support the story/pitch?
Choose the tools that fit the physical and physiological environment where you are going to speak. For example – speaking in a very large auditorium is very different than speaking at the office the potential buyer or investor. So ask yourself: what tool or tools will be most effective?
- Prezi or Keynote and the supporting tools, video projector, laptop computer, sound system, and the impact of lighting upon the audience.
- Microphone needs, mobile or fixed, sound systems.
- Flip chart, whiteboard or smart board technology.
- Handouts (report or supporting research materials).
- Models or working demonstration?
- Room setup?
Always ask your-self; What best supports the story?
The forgotten “Rehearsal”
My ‘Rehearsal’ process is designed to build confidence, familiarity and experience so that on the performance day all goes smoothly and that you get the result you want and that your audience gets what they want. Use this process and you will be successful; don’t use it and you might be lucky or – you might fail in a critical area!
- First read-through of early script – to test timing and content: Record it and then listen to the read-through or create an audience to listen to your read-through.
- First rehearsal – stand up and deliver the speech: again, record then listen to the read-through or create an audience to listen to your read-through.
- Technical rehearsal: use all props and audio-visual software, computer, projector, and microphone etc
- Full dress rehearsal – pay attention to the timing. This means get dressed just as if you were giving the speech. Everything involved needs to be tested and used (A/V software, computer, projector and microphone, etc.)
- Do not change any slides or presentation material 48 hours before the pitch, as it adds complexity and can create confusion.
- Performance day – relax. If you have done each rehearsal step, all you have to do is relax. If you haven’t done each rehearsal step, relax anyway as it’s now too late to catch up.
Relax and win. Changing the slides and relaxing on performance day is ignored most often and it is always to detriment of the speaker. It creates stress and all round confusion to suddenly embark on a new direction. Relax and win.