Your perfect pitch

But you don’t need to become a slick presenter to make an effective pitch.

Being able to pitch well can mean the difference between success and failure – it’s an essential communication skill. But you don’t need to become a slick presenter to make an effective pitch, as this article reveals.

Get good at pitching

Convincing other people to support your business in one way or another is something you’ll do repeatedly as an entrepreneur – so it pays to get good at pitching.

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. Use these three tips to align all elements into one powerful presentation.

1. Let your passion show.

People who truly believe in what they are doing give the most effective presentations. A pitch from a novice presenter who speaks from the heart will probably do a better job at winning over their audience than the seasoned professional who is simply selling a product.

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, 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.

2. Think like a scout and be prepared.

Developing an effective presentation involves more work than simply typing up PowerPoint slides. Whether you are delivering a speech in an auditorium or pitching in a downtown boardroom, being prepared involves checking your content, your audience and your venue.

  • Use great content - 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 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.
  • Check the venue - contact the venue host to check on technical arrangements or to order refreshments. Make sure you have the equipment you need (consider bringing paper handouts as back up). Arrive early to arrange chairs, tidy the room or to set-up your gear. The last thing you want is for the technology to suffer glitches during your presentation, so make sure it’s all working properly. Then give yourself a few private moments to relax and prepare.

3. 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.

  • Bonus tip: 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.

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