Your perfect pitch
By Roger Pierce, Small Business Expert
There’s no way around it. As a business owner, you’re going to need to deliver a pitch.
It could be a sales pitch to a prospective customer. It could be a financing pitch to an investor. Or, you may want to pitch your local newspaper to write a story about your business.
The ability to pitch perfectly requires passion, preparation and practice. Here’s how to align all three elements into one effective presentation.
• Let your passion show. People who truly believe in what they are doing make the most effective presentations. I’d rather hear a pitch from a novice presenter who speaks from the heart than a seasoned professional who is trained to win me over.
So let that natural passion out. Get excited about your accomplishments, your plans, your ideas, your people, your customers or whatever it is you are pitching. Talk about your failures and your successes and what you’ve learned. Talk about your hopes and dreams. Share with your audience.
If you don’t believe in something, don’t pitch it. Your audience will find you out. Besides, there’s a deeper problem to investigate if your passion is missing.
• Fortune favours the prepared mind. Developing your presentation requires more than PowerPoint slides. Preparation involves your content, your audience and your venue.
Know your stuff. Showcase your particular knowledge and expertise. Give your audience real insight and information. Dig up some amazing research, unknown facts or jaw-dropping revelations. Do your homework.
Learn what you can about your audience. Use social media tools such as LinkedIn to obtain some background on the people who will be in the room. It will help you to anticipate particular interests and questions.
Finally, confirm venue details. Contact the venue host to check on technical arrangements or to order refreshments. Arrive early to arrange chairs, affix signs or to set-up your gear. Give yourself a few private moments to relax and prepare.
• Practice makes perfect. The better you know your material the better your pitch will be. Finish it well in advance of the actual presentation date and practice, practice, practice.
Practice timing, practice pronunciation, practice emphasis and tone. Practice answering anticipated questions and practice using any presentation equipment.
One organization that helps people to practice speaking in public is Toastmasters. There are local chapters in every Canadian city.
The purpose of practice isn’t to make you a slick presenter. The purpose of practice is to help you relax. When you are comfortable with the material, you’ll be able to focus on the delivery – and win audience support for whatever it is you are pitching.
Got any tips for the perfect presentation? For example, some people get nervous speaking in front of others. How do you stay calm? Please share your experiences with others.