How to Pitch Perfect

 

There are many instances when, as professionals, you have to pitch. Whether it is skills and talents, or the products and services for the organisations that you work for.

As a presentations coach I have had the pleasure of working with a number of individuals to help them effectively pitch in some of the areas below:

* Senior positions of leadership
* Fundraising for charities
* Seeking partners for a growing company
* Seeking investment for their startup

One of my favourite areas is working with startups. It has been a blast working with entrepreneurs looking to pitch their ideas. Over the last two years I have had the pleasure of working with a group of exciting entrepreneurs who have been pitching their business ideas to Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group. They learn to hone their core message, practice and refine their delivery skills all to essentially win over both Sir Richard and the panel of exciting entrepreneurs who help him to decide the winners.

Here is the simple framework that I use to help my clients Pitch P.E.R.F.E.C.T.

1. PRODUCT
Know your product inside out. Know what inspired you to serve the market with your product in the first place. It is important that you know what market your product serves and what makes it distinct from the competition

2. ENERGY
If you are not enthused or excited about your product why should anyone else be?
Bring your passion for what you do to the pitch. Be yourself.This does not mean you have to be over the top like some charismatic air punching seminar leader, but bring a good energy to your pitch. Ensure when you are planning the stages of your pitch that you bear in mind how you will demonstrate this in words or actions.

3. RAPPORT
People buy people. One of the things I have learned is that hand in hand with a robust plan of action is knowing who and what you are pitching to and for. Getting your delivery skills right through using your voice, body language and visuals where applicable are were many pitches rise and fall.
Building good rapport with those who you are pitching to is critical.

4. FOCUS
Don’t waffle. Stay focused on what it is you are trying to say because less is more. The best way to do this is to ensure that you have a predetermined structure to your presentation. Each investor may have a different requirement so get to know what this is but stay focused on what will make the investor want to fund you.

5. EVIDENCE
In addition to the focus of how you deliver your pitch is the need for evidence. Some panels they want to see the hard data. Such as where you get your sales data or projection, what research you have done, the risk factors involved and about your team and experience.

Rather than overload these stats in slide decks overwhelming investors with numbers in a visual presentation it would be advisable to have a complimentary pitch deck in the form of a document that you can hand those you are pitching to.

6. CLOSE
The way you close is critical.
What are you actually looking for?
How will you persuade the investor(s) that you are the company to be invested in?

Many people try to keep the close right until the end of the pitch, but if there is one thing I have learned from great sales people and successful pitches it is that they close all the way through their presentation. Mini closes through questions, rhetorical or otherwise, that all lead up to that final close should cement why you are the choice company to be invested in. It is essential at this point that your close leads them to a point where you are confident to take any questions.

7. TABLE
In an ideal world the questions for your pitch will be tabled at the end. When I first started pitch coaching I actually would shape the pitch so that the presenter would be prepared to answer any questions levelled at the end. Now I get presenters to be prepared for questions and objections at any stage in the presentation. Even with the best intentions in the world an investor could stop you in your flow and challenge assumptions, question data or even try to unnerve you just to see how you handle pressure
As a pitcher you should be prepared at any stage to deal with this, rather than answering the question there and then on the spot, direct the questioner to data in one of your documents or ask them to hold that thought and coming back to it at the end or a more appropriate time.

Pitching is both an art and a science. Even with the model I have prescribed there will be a multitude of circumstances that can affect which way a decision can go. Much of the success I have witnessed comes from understanding why you believe your product or service will make a difference, and also understanding who your investors are and what they are looking for.

What works for you when you’re pitching?