Nailing the Pitch

by Jeremy Lord on July 8, 2016

“So, what do you do?” is an inevitable question that everybody will face at some point in their lives. Whether you’re pitching to room full of VC’s, talking to friends, or trying to win over the in-laws, it’s a question that you want to be prepared to knock out of the park. The goal here is to be memorable, likeable, and effective at communicating. There is a general structure that works best when trying to appeal to people, but the main idea is that your pitch has to be tailored to the audience that is asking the question.

Some people are more knowledgeable of certain subjects, some people are expecting a higher-level response, and some people might just be making conversation and couldn’t care either way. Tailoring to your audience though, is the best/only way to appeal to their emotions and make you memorable. Courtesy of Kevin Sandlin (my pitch coach), the general structure of such arguments in any such order is your name, company, the problem, the solution (why you’re relevant), your customers, and in the case of a business pitch end by asking for something (funding, opportunities, etc.). When done right, all of these areas can be covered in about 30 seconds which is generally the threshold for maintaining someone’s interest. Beyond that 30 seconds, minds start to wander and then the audience is lost. The idea is to keep it as simple as possible as to not over-step or question someone’s intelligence.

If you are in a position to prepare a business pitch or in an equally as important encounter with the in-laws, a great starting point is putting yourself in the audience’s shoes. Ask yourself tough questions like what’s their background, where could this background influence their opinion about certain topics, and why should they care? This is the foundation for ANY argument. It is so important because this opens up the doors to relate to your audience in someway allowing you to be stamped in their memory. It doesn’t matter how technical or complicated the job is if they leave the situation knowing what problem they care about that you can solve.

In-laws and casual run-ins aside, the business pitch is an art that could make your company millions or possibly miss out on any number of opportunities. The usual consensus in a business meeting is that everybody is busy. The term “time is money” is a very real concept; nobody likes their time to be wasted, especially when they have a thousand things to do. The silver lining here is if you’re in the room with them already, then you have their attention. They at least cared or were interested enough to give you the meeting. Now it’s time to knock their socks off with how helpful you can be to their operation.

People like a healthy dose of facts or evidence to support your claims. Healthy is the key here, you don’t want to recite every random fact that google found. One solid fact or some data should be sufficient enough to prove the pain point and why you are relevant. Facts help to solidify your argument and give you more credibility, which is very important when you find yourself standing in a room-full of executives with countless endeavors and experiences under their belt.

When perfected, a simple and impressionable pitch can open countless doors for yourself and your business. So, get to it! Start practicing different techniques and find what works for you. The most important aspect is appealing to your audience. Once this is accomplished then consider it a successful pitch and let the doors start swinging open. One of my pitches was featured here, if you care to take a look. If you would like to learn more about different techniques or want to be featured on the Pitch Practice Podcast, email your recorded pitch to pitch@pitchpractice.co to get help from a professional pitch coach! Happy pitching and may the force be with you!

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