The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) hosted a pitching event which was led by Opening Doors Network. This competition consisted of impressive young entrepreneurs who wanted to put forward their product/service idea in front of an audience. I was invited to be one of the judges alongside Tim Campbell MBE, First Winner of The Apprentice and Founder of The Bright Ideas Trust, Olga Astaniotis Analyn Haswell Finance Officer Greater London Enterprise and Robin Landman OBE Sisonke Partnership. In light of this event here are a few top tips that I would focus on to leave the room buzzing when you’re pitching.
Whenever you’re before a potential client, business partner, associate, fellow entrepreneur or anybody you are pitching. It doesn’t have to be a full sales pitch neither. You are pitching because you’re talking about you and your business. You’re pitching to show you’re credible, interesting, reliable, different and that you can actually deliver. Every time you speak you are pitching. And people are always subconsciously questioning you: is she/he speaking the truth? will this work? can I trust them with my network? is this product/service really solving problem? why should listen to you of all people? We all behave in this way as human beings even outside of business. We are constantly judging if we want work with this and that individual. It is how we make choices for us and people around us. The question people want to know in your pitch is can you deliver? And you have to answer in a way that resonates with the audience. Get them buzzing and talking about you for days, weeks, months and event years. Here is how to:
First Tip: Read up on your audience and adapt
If you are to perform a proper pitch to take your business to the next level you must learn about the audience you will be pitching to. The audience can consist of the judges, onlookers, fellow entrepreneurs and other key decision makers. The most important people to research among the latter is the people who are be making the decision. That decision can be whether to invest, offer funding, become a partner or introduce you to your most lucrative customer. If you don’t research your audience you are potentially cutting yourself short. Who are they? What industry do they work in? Who do they know? What their general views on key issues? What are they interested in? The better you get to know them the better you can adapt your pitch. Be aware of making assumptions. Google is your friend!
Second Tip: Crisp, Clear & Concise
You’re pitch has to be crisp, clear & concise because people’s attention spans are short. The more you waffle on the more likely they will switch off and this could at a very critical point of your pitch. Decide on the key points of your pitch and what you would like to put across. Avoid repeating yourself. You have to give enough information to intrigue and make people believe. If you’re pitching time is short than bear that in mind. If it is long you really have to nail down every single point your audience will be looking for. If you fail to do it they will question you on it. Try your best to anticipate questions the audience might pose to you. You can do this by practicing with a person from a business background. Ask them: what have I missed? What is making sense and what isn’t?
Third Tip: Break Down your pitch
Break down your pitch so that you can deliver a 30 second, 60 second, 5 minute and 10 minute version of it. Breaking down your pitch in different time scales means that you can adapt it to people. We live in an age where people have little time and often want you to get to the point. If you have delivered a full sales pitch members of your audience might want to follow-up with you by having a private chat. You need be prepared because now the person might only give you a few minutes and they are not going to sit through a 10-20 minute presentation.
Fourth Tip: Ask for Feedback
However your pitch went you must ask for feedback afterwards. How else will you improve? It is especially important you do if you’re in the presence of key decision makers because it is unlikely you will have face to face access to them anytime soon. Ask them how you did and what you can improve. If you don’t ask for feedback then it’s another missed opportunity. It take you longer to correct something when it could have been dealt with right away.
Sixth Tip: Enjoy it
Remember to enjoy it. Pitching can be absolutely nerve wrecking but do enjoy it. The best way to enjoy it is to prepare and practice as much as possible. Once you have mastered your pitch you should feel a bit more relaxed. It is very normal to be nervous as it shows you care.
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