The Cambridge Dictionary defines a pitch as “the words or speech someone, especially a salesperson, uses to persuade someone to buy, do, or use something.” In a nutshell, this definitely is the most simplistic meaning of a pitch, but examined at a deeper level, a business pitch is something a lot more complex.
It isn’t just the words someone uses, it is about the body language, the tone, and striking the perfect balance between sounding convincing without sounding desperate, even if your best-laid plans depend on a single pitch! Pitching for an entrepreneur is an opportunity to write what he/she wants on a clean slate – the minds of their audience.
However, not with chalk but a permanent marker! If you make a bad job of it, there is no rubbing the slate clean! You will just have to pull up your socks, learn from your mistakes and then look around for some new slates. Deep down most small business owners already know these ground rules, but here are some pointers you can keep in mind. Just go ahead and write your destiny just the way you want to.
Make an emphatic start The first few minutes are critical, so do not beat around the bush. Establish your credentials and what you bring to the table within the first few minutes. Take care to not bore your audience with a long-drawn life history that will have them suppressing yawns, or worse, exchanging uncertain glances.
Know your audience Be relevant and realize that the same presentation does not work for everyone. Put an inadequate amount of research to get to know the people you would be presenting to and understand the industry. Customize your messages to make your business appear aligned to their strategic needs.
Be concise As a CEO of a start-up you may want to say a lot but it is very important to time your pitch correctly. Keep it simple and to the point. Avoid any sort of hyperbole and remember that you are more likely to score brownie points for keeping the content relevant and crisp.
Back to basics Even the best pitch may come to nothing if the projector dies out on you, the electric supply lets you down, or any other previously unthought-of calamity strikes you. Be adequately prepared with your backups – a second laptop, print-outs of the slides, or whatever else it takes to be battle-ready. Also, reach on time to set up the stage well in advance. This will rid you of needless anxiety.
Look in-charge While it is important to showcase team spirit and give others a slice of the pie, you still need to control the pitch. As a small business owner, you need to look and be in-charge. This comes naturally with proper preparation and knowing the details. Make sure to inspire the audience with your confidence without appearing like a know-it-all.
Listen Listening is already half the battle won. The very fact that you are listing to your audience means, they are engaging with you by making the conversation around your presentation. Carefully understand what your audience is trying to convey to you and read their body language to respond accordingly. Listening to your audience will actually open up avenues to make your pitch stronger.
Pitch Repeatedly Finally, do not let failures bog you down. The more you pitch, the better you will get at it. True, your best-laid plans could very well rest on a single pitch, but you never know when a new opportunity will come along to make your dreams come true.