Power Pitching – 4 essential tips
Mistakes are made all the time, but it is our reaction to these mistakes that defines us. Here are a few of mine so that hopefully you won’t repeat my mistakes! Having pitched several times over the last few weeks and made a whole host of errors, I have learnt a few handy techniques to pitching. I have certainly benefited from them and hope you do as well.
1. Be the boss.
If you have prepared a pitch that concisely and coherently presents your business proposition, then stick to it! Even if they just ask for a ‘chat’, stick to your guns and present yourself as you planned to. A couple of weeks ago, I arrived at Cake Group to meet a potential partner, prepared with a pitch, documents to back it up, and most importantly, a head full of confidence! The curve ball arrived when I was asked for ‘nothing formal’ and just to have ‘casual chat’ about myself and the product. This I’m afraid was my downfall.. I put aside my presentation and bumbled through ‘casually’ as instructed, without structure and subsequently missed out some key details. I also found myself following, right from the outset having been put on the back foot.
If you find yourself in that situation, just stick to what you prepared, even if they ask for nothing formal. All you need to say is – ‘I will pitch this to you first, and then we’ll chat about it afterwards’ – easy. This will allow you to be confident that you will get all your information across, you won’t feel unprepared and it will also inspire confidence in the listener that you can stand your ground.
2. Prepare for the unexpected.
This sound like a real cliché, but you should always be prepared to pitch at the drop of a hat. I was caught off guard today; being told ‘pitch me!’ just as I took my coat off and sat at the table! I fudged my pitch and locked up on certain aspects. Up until that moment, I had always had the time to prepare and pitch on my own terms, with the comfort of knowing the meeting time, location etc. I’m afraid this is very rarely the case! If you can pitch your idea in 20 seconds, great! memorize it and keep on the tip of your tongue for any occasion!
3. Have your strategy clear in your mind.
Having reshaped and developed my business model several times over the last few weeks, it has been easy for my mind to become confused between old strategies and new. I’m sure we all do it; it is simply a by-product of our minds running away with new ideas! Just what any entrepreneur needs to do! There is however a time and a place, i.e. not the meeting room.. Both old and new may be completely valid in the correct context, but when mixing the two, it is likely they won’t add up. Unfortunately it is the job of any entrepreneur or investor to pick up these occurrences in a flash, so make sure that you have clear in your mind the current strategy, before you go into the meeting. The way I will be combatting the in future, will be doing a mind map before each meeting just to reinforce the points I will be making.
4. Structure your response before answering questions.
It sounds obvious, but take a breath, think about what the question was, think about how you’re going to answer it, and then open your mouth. I can guarantee you that the pause between question and answer will feel far longer to you than it does to the other person. I personally have a tendency to rush into answers, but I will be taking that extra 2 seconds from now on to compose myself and tackle the question more effectively.