For many of us, the thought of pitching our ideas can be nerve-wracking. What if I get nervous? What if I forget what I wanted to say? How can I make sure that I get what I want? From using storytelling to connect with your audience to perfecting your powerpoint presentation, there are several ingredients for making a successful pitch.
Tell a Story.
Since the beginning of time, human beings have been telling stories. Our brains are hard-wired for both telling and listening to stories. Stories are how we engage with others and make sense of the world around us. It is for this reason that storytelling is one of the most important skills for changemakers.
Stories help us envision and share the change we want to see in the world. Storytelling is an essential skill to inspire and mobilize change. Stories make our messages memorable. They capture the attention of our audience and give them something to relate to. Stories motivate and inspire them to move towards the change that we all desire.
Stories allow you to share something of yourself, who you are, what you believe in, your values and your truths with others. Through storytelling, you can:
- Create a connection with your audience by showing you have things in common
- Give others an insight into who you are and your personal experiences
- Demonstrate your vulnerability (“chinks in your armor”) that make you more human – it’s difficult to form a relationship with a perfect person!
- Capture the essence of your message in a way that is personal to you and more easily understood by your audience.
Helpful Hint: Think of a moment in your life which set you on the path to where you are now. How did that moment change you and inspire you to pursue your venture? These are the types of stories that will work well in your pitch.
Get to the Point.
One of the most important tips for a successful pitch is to get right to the point. Stick to the time allotted and use precision with your language. Make a list of things you need to say and make sure you only say the things that are on the list. Use easy words and easy sentences. Make every word count, take out all of the fluff.
There are four basic types of pitches:
- One Sentence Pitch. Ideally, you should be able to clearly define what you do in one simple sentence. If you need help writing your one sentence pitch, here is a template you can follow:
My company, (insert company name) is developing (a defined offering) to help (a target audience) (solve a problem) (with a secret sauce).
Example: My company, Free People International, is developing a social network to help changemakers all over the world live a more eco-conscious lifestyle by rewarding them with green goods for good behavior.
- 3 Minutes – “Elevator Pitch”. This is the most common type of pitch, particularly for entrepreneurs. You can either start with your one sentence pitch or kick off with a story that leads into your venture idea. This is the pitch that you will use when you meet someone for the first time and they ask you what you do. What will you say to them that will give them a complete idea of who you are, what you do and what you want? Keep in mind that you won’t have a slide presentation on hand for this type of pitch. You must rely only on your words to convey the most appropriate message.
- 5 Minutes – “Slide Presentation”. This type of pitch offers a more in-depth look into your venture. It is the most common type of pitch for conferences, panel discussions and events. Here, you can clearly identify the problem you are addressing and your proposed solution. Introduce your product (or service), discuss your target market, outline your business model, boast about your accomplishments and give a clear “call to action”.
- 20 Minutes – “Investor Pitch”. This type of pitch is specifically for potential partners or investors. They may already know a little bit about your business, this pitch will allow you to go more in depth. This is an extended version of the 5 Minute pitch. You can add additional information about your team, the technology you’re using and/or your marketing plan. Think of it as a way to jumpstart a meaningful conversation about your venture.
Bring All the Ingredients.
Think about your goal and the target audience. It is important to be knowledgeable about who exactly you will be pitching to in order to keep your message relevant. Are you trying to raise money, gain partners or recruit potential members/customers? Keep these things in mind as you are developing your pitch. Discover creative ways that you can use your story to garner attention, leverage the information at your disposal and express a clear call to action.
Also, be aware of your voice and body language. Keep your voice deep and relaxed. Maintain eye contact and keep your pace slow. Be sure to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground and embody confidence in your stance. All of these things will contribute to how your audience receives your message.
Powerpoint is Your Friend.
Always remember that less is more when it comes to developing your powerpoint presentation. Use dynamic images and as few words as possible on your slides. You should have a separate script for what you are going to say. Never turn your back to the audience to read from your slides. Don’t use a lot of different fonts, animations, colors etc. which can make your slides difficult to read. Keep it simple. Put one thought on each slide. Feel free to use pictures of cute babies and puppies as you see fit.
Finally, just have fun! This is your chance to share something you are passionate about with the world. Make them laugh, make them cry. Most of all, be yourself.