I've been asked repeatedly for more tips about pitching -- here you go!
The best strategy is to blend elements into a seamless story. Here are the first series of tips about which I'll be elaborating in weeks to come:
1. Be aware that you are telling a story. Stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end with transitions that lead from one to the other and tell the listener where you’re going.
2. More on the importance of transitions: Always remember to tell listeners where you’re going. They are much more likely to listen because they know WHY to pay attention.
3. If you are unclear what the structure looks like for your story – which elements lie in the beginning, middle, and end – put each piece of your presentation on colored note cards that distinguish the sections of the story. It’s a good exercise no matter what-- so that you really understand how you’re telling your story and why.
4. The point of the pitch is for new contacts to feel it’s obvious to meet you and to learn more about your company/project. However, the reason for telling the story must have its own, more specific internal logic. This is the logic that drove you to work on this idea – and now drives you to give the highlights. It’s what gets the investors/clients/collaborators to feel (not think) that you have it going on. Even if you’re only doing it for the money, your personal investment in this project needs to be felt. If so, it will be contagious.
5. No one ever made a decision based entirely on data – it’s how much/in what way the data supports the feelings you can generate in the rest of the story that will win your audience over.
6. It helps your audience to engage to give specific, concrete stories within the story. These can be very short, but any time you offer an abstract concept, offer a concrete example.
7. Discard jargon in favor of day-to-day language. Pretend you’re talking to a room full of highly intelligent, successful, well-educated, curious bakers. What kind of language would you avoid?
8. More on bakers: don’t use acronyms. OECD is ok if said s-l-o-w-l-y, but for more frequently used acronyms, skip the letters and say all the words. It doesn’t take much longer – World Wide Web takes even less time to say than WWW.
9. Say your name slowly and deliberately. Leave a pause between your first and last name. It’s important that listeners understand you, or they will assume they won’t understand ANYTHING you say. You want their attention from the beginning.
10. Stay focused as you go – to make sure you are concentrating on the story, why you care about the story, and why the listeners should, too.