In a presentation, what really matters is how you form your message.
Yet, in many other situations in life, exactly the same thing matters. When “pitching” to your future boss on a job interview, on a first date, when pitching your project to management or potential investors,…. I am sure you can think of many more situations when capability to form effective and short pitch would come in handy!
Even emails that you send out are sort of a pitch!
In this article, when I say pitch, I really have something like this in mind:
“An elevator pitch, elevator speech, or elevator statement is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product, service, or organization and its value proposition.The name “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes” (thank you, Wikipedia :))
So, we will be talking about short speech with a purpose of convincing someone in something that we believe or offer, being it in a formal environment, or (much more often used) in everyday life.
So let’s talk about how to create pitch that will work and bring you a result that you desire
Pitch is really a story about a problem, and its solution.
Be careful not to just put the information out, but to form it in a story.
The way to start is with the problem part – it is really the part where you need to use empathy and understanding – demonstrating that you really “see and hear” what is on top of the mind of person who is standing in front of you.
The second part of the story – discovering solution – needs to be gradual, well timed and not revealing all at once (think striptease :))
Like in any good story, things need to unfold, with some tension and excitement, but also with a clear beginning and an end.
Preparation of content
Taking proper time for thinking and planning is a foundation for everything that comes after that, and should not be underestimated.
Preparation really matters when we talk about pitch!
Cause the more short and direct you need to be, the better you need to form your message, making it effective and clear.
Preparation of pitch involved gathering information, meeting others to discuss ideas, getting content (or slides) prepared, allowing both time to be creative, and time to shape the structure.
Writing pitch shouldn’t be a mechanical act – it needs to be imaginative and creative. For that to happen, you must allow enough time, but also try to do it in a creative environment.
To make sure your message is clear enough, and also simple enough, make sure that you are able to form your message in one single sentence. It does not mean that that is the only sentence that you will use in the pitch, but it really means that you have some backbone to hold on to, some clear focus for the rest of your pitch.
“One strong, central idea beats a thousand pages of analyses every time.”, as Stephen Bayley, author of “Life’s a pitch”, says.
Make sure that you pitch has a structure. Even if its short, structure must exist. That means that you will need short introduction, middle part where you bring in most of the content, and strong summary in the end. End is usually the most influential part…but it will only work if you “warm up” your audience and make them curious and receptive in your intro and body of a pitch.
Person that stands behind the solution that you are pitching and the impression that that person leaves usually matters more than the solution itself.
In delivery, these are the things that are most crucial:
- how you pace and shape the pitch
- how you deal with the question
- radiating confidence and being relaxed
Make sure that you pitch has sense of movement, but no rush. The time needs to be well used, but never creating feeling of pressure or stress.
Say it Simple, but make sure you know the details behind. This will give you confidence, but also enable you to deal with any questions.
If they ask a question, thank them for it! It does show involvement and effort from their side, so it is really something that you can appreciate. Very often question is a lot about seeing how much you listen to them and use their opinions, and not only about the answer that you provide.
Radiating confidence can be achieved by having three things in your mind: don’t try too hard, demonstrate example/proof from the past and approach to other person as equal (how can people trust to someone who is “under” them?).
While delivering a pitch, make sure to balance excitement and reassurance – you do want to get that yes, but also to avoid some potential ‘NO’’s. Make sure to do both: minimize risk, and bring in some excitement.
Involve them. Ask them a question. Make them feel that you are in it together.
When you pitch something, you are asking another person to “place a bet” on something in your future. As no one can judge your future based on logic (facts are unknown) – it really comes down to their Faith in your future.
So make sure to shoot for the emotion, and not mere logical info! Demonstrate trust, confidence, hope, ambition, desire. Make them feel the person behind the pitch.
While delivering a pitch, bear in mind you message, but also your purpose – what is that you want to achieve in the end of this pitch? Another conversation, some next steps, “closed deal”, leaving them informed, or something else? Make it clear for you, and have it in mind while closing the pitch.
Couple of examples to learn from:
Elevator pitch winner Josh Light:
He did a nice explanation of what is in it for you (for all sides), and covered all aspect of his proposal. However, he did rush a bit.
Elevator Pitch Winner – Katie Sunday:
- Why are we talking about this? (Be cause that is what people want)
- What is the idea that I am respresenting? (travelblender)
- Why am I talking about it? (cause no one else is doing it)
- What is the benefit? (profit)
If you would like to dig deeper into formulating a pitch, book “Life’s a pitch” by Stephen Bayley and Roger Mavity is a great place to start.