The Perfect Business Pitch
Rabih El Khodr Shares Tips that can Help You Pitch like a Pro
These tips can help anyone pitch like a pro
Pitching is an inevitable rite of passage for any entrepreneur. The practice, made famous by the nerveracking seconds spent in an elevator, can help land a golden opportunity for any new business… or it can help create a lasting first impression of unprofessional amateurism.
With such high stakes, no wonder your body becomes burdened with worry and your throat get wrenched with fear. But it shouldn’t be this way. To pitch is to have a wonderful opportunity to impress, to wow; to convince others of not only investing in you, but to believe in your vision - and make it happen. This is where public speaking skills come into play. And anyone can be a great public speaker. But before you get started as a pitcher, there are several key things you need to remember.
PUBLIC SPEAKING IS AN ACT OF LISTENING Speakers are listeners, too. If someone sneezes loudly in the audience during your pitch, you might stop, turn towards them, and say “bless you” with a genuine smile. Now you might not even notice the sneeze if you’re dying of stress during your presentation. People listen to people they like. And a simple “bless you” can help build rapport with that single person, and with the entire crowd at the same time.
PUBLIC SPEAKING IS A PERFORMANCE
THE STEPS TOWARDS A GREAT PITCH No matter how revolutionary your idea is, how strong your business case is, or how awesome your team is, if you can’t sell your business properly, your competitors will. And the key for remarkable selling lies in your on-stage performance. So Public speaking should be a fun experience. And it should be an equally fun experience for the audience! Treat your pitch as an opportunity to inform, inspire, or simply entertain, by sharing your story with passion.
here are the basic steps to delivering a pitch that will paint a picture about your business acumen; your entrepreneurial drive; and your X factor.
1. Come Prepared You need to go into your pitch with a game plan. Research the history of the competition that you are participating in. Review the pitches delivered in past editions. Know more about the jury members of this year’s edition. Be surgically clear about what is it that you want to say in your pitch. Write it down. Make sure that the whole thing flows.
2. Have Structure In order for your pitch to leave a mark, you need to deliver it in a clearly structured way. Think of yourself as the conductor of a train. You need to take your passengers from a departure station to an arrival one, while having successive stops along the way. Take your audience on a similarly sequential ride - one where you’re enjoying the stops.
3. Be Alive Audiences want to get to know the *real* you: the one that jokes around with friends; the one that is passionate about an idea; the one that wants to change the world with that idea. So stir up your audience’s emotions by talking with your heart on your palm. Show us who you really are.
4. Control your body Your body language speaks volumes about your confidence levels; so even if you’re welled up with anxiety and your only desire is to run away and take the first plane to Brazil, you cannot allow your audience to “sense” your fear. Make sure to consciously control your body. Always remember that you are in control. Not the audience. Not the voice inside your head.
5. Project your voice The microphone won’t do its job properly if you whisper into it. Make sure to project your voice into the microphone so that the entire hall hears your voice and listens to you speak with confidence. If you’re saying “I’m so excited to be here” in a non-exciting way, we’ll believe your tone of voice and body language, not the words you’ve said. Just don’t get too excited though… a sudden screech or speaking too loud for an extended period of time can lead to a really annoyed audience.
6. Use the stage So many entrepreneurs fail to seize the golden opportunity of making full use of the venue given to them, only to settle for half a square meter of space. A business pitch is like any other public speech: a performance. So get inspired from the theater arts to take control of that stage. Impose yourself and claim that space to be yours. Try not to hide behind a podium. Get close to your audience. Interact with them. Use the space to create memorable drama (not the Turkish-soap-opera type). Just don’t keep pacing left and right across the stage… you might induce motion sickness in your audience!
On a final note, remember to treat the opportunity of getting on stage as your million-dollar lottery ticket. Don’t leave that stage before having given your absolute best. Even if you don’t win the million bucks, you’ll come out of the experience more energized, more confident, and ready to take on t he world.
Rabih El Khodr is an independent communication trainer and consultant with close to a decade of professional experience. He is the founder of a public speaking consultancy called STANDUP! with a presence in both Lebanon and the UAE.