The Per­fect Busi­ness Pitch

Rabih El Khodr Shares Tips that can Help You Pitch like a Pro

Arabnet - The Quarterly - - Content -

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.

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