The perfect pitch converts to business. It’s not magic, but a lot of hard work. Here’s why you should put the work in:

Pitching your business is a powerful way to market yourself and to close business. A strong presentation in front of the right people can make a great difference. However, we all know that a killer pitch usually matures with time. And that means that you have to deliver your talk a number of times to get it 100% right.

Your networking group is the perfect test audience

If you are a member of a networking group, you should use the opportunity to pitch to your group. Pitching to your networking group is a great way to rehearse your talk, test the response with an audience, find those bits that can still be improved and strengthen the relationship with your group members.

Since your fellow net-workers already know you, you can experiment, show your passion and find the way to really engage your audience. Pitching to your networking group is the ideal opportunity to try something new, to test a new style, tell a new story and find out how your pitch is perceived. And if your presentation goes well, you might be rewarded with some referrals and positive feedback, that will help to improve your pitch even further and boost your confidence.

Especially, if speaking publicly is daunting for you, delivering a new pitch in a networking group is a chance to present to a friendly audience. After your pitch you can ask for feedback, confirm your strong points and learn more about your weak points. Pitching in front of a friendly audience helps to curb nervousness or fear of speaking.

Don’t worry if you take your notes to the podium, they can help you relax. Notes are your safety belt. Should you get too nervous, you can always refer back to them. Usually, you won’t even need your notes because you’ve practiced your pitch a number of times and taking notes helps to memorise your pitch even better.

Practice makes perfect – if you use the feedback

Rehearsing your pitch multiple times will give you confidence. After all – what are family and friends for? You could even record your pitch and analyse it afterwards. Once you are confident, you can focus on the delivery, body language and how to stay in contact with the audience.

When I delivered my pitch to my networking group, it felt really good. Because I knew my pitch, I was able to watch the audience and see how engaged they were. As it turned out, I hadn’t lost anyone during my pitch and afterwards I got some positive feedback and a couple of referrals.

The nicest feedback I got was, that one member felt, that time went too quickly, that she learned a lot more about me, my passion for my writing and how I work. She found my pitch genuinely interesting and entertaining. For me it was a great way to test whether I had my customer persona and delivery style right and provided the right information to engage my audience.

So what’s the mix and the process to prepare the perfect pitch? Well, a lot of preparation and the right information for your audience. Here are the ingredients for a great pitch:

Ingredients for a perfect pitch

  • Tell a story – people are wired to listen to stories. Listening to stories is in our DNA, our survival depended on it (well, that was when we were cave dwellers, but we haven’t moved on a great deal where storytelling is concerned)
  • Tie your most important message to your story – it will be remembered
  • When presenting, be aware that you are your brand. You need to live your band vision, mission and values
  • Show who you are, warts and all
  • Use your private and professional background to point out relevant experiences that make you the best provider
  • Point out how your past made you special at what you are doing now
  • Show your passion for your business and create emotion (because emotion lets people make buying decisions)

Why not use a mind map for planning?

But we can’t get all that passion across if we haven’t prepared our pitch in detail. Good preparation is absolutely crucial. Here are the steps that help me planning my pitch:

Step 1:

  • Create a mind map – on paper or electronic mind mapping tool
  • Create different branches of what you could write about
    • About yourself
      • Career
      • Personal details
        • Hobbies
        • Family
      • Background/Qualification
    • Your business – what is it about
      • mission
      • vision
      • values
      • message you want to bring across
    • Why you do, what you do
    • Your story:
      • How you found the passion about what you are doing
      • How you got into doing what you are doing
      • Details about your career & how that aided the service you are offering now
      • Other periods in your life and how they contributed to who are and what you do

Step 2:

  • Fill in the details/categories in your mind map with as much information as possible
  • Add categories as necessary
  • Re-arrange details into speaking order

A good story will pack a punch

Step 3:

  • Think of stories you can tell about important periods in your life – stories that reflect influential events in your life with regards to your business. Or think about discoveries and turning points that impacted your life
  • Link the different stories or anecdotes to the messages you want to deliver in your pitch
  • Write out your speaking notes in the correct order

Step 4:

  • Go away and do something else –  you need a fresh mind to review your pitch
  • Review your notes
  • Make changes as appropriate
  • Practise your speech until you are confident and are able deliver the speech in an exciting fashion
  • Know your jokes and funny parts in advance
  • Time your speech
  • Deliver your speech to a dummy audience & use the feedback

Step 5:

  • Deliver your pitch. Delivery is stronger when you:
    • Start with a bang (a captivating story)
    • Move around (try to avoid being the bunny in the headlights)
    • Involve the audience
    • Give examples
    • Use body language
    • Don’t speak to fast
    • Pause often

I’m sure there are many other ways to prepare and deliver a pitch. This is what works for me, but I would love to hear from you, how you prepare and deliver your pitches.

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