Sarah Prescott: Win them over: 8 steps to a perfect pitch
Sarah Prescott is the General Manager of Marketing at Thankyou and has plenty of experience pitching ideas in difficult circumstances in order to create change. Thankyou successfully broke into a mature beverages market in 2008 and beat the odds with their concept of providing safe drinking water to the 900 million people by taking a risk, pitching their ideas and backing them.
No matter what position you’re in or what industry, learning the art of the perfect pitch is vital to success.
What is a pitch?
A pitch can take many different forms, and often, the most important pitches you’ll deliver are ones you don’t think are that important. Whether presenting an assignment at uni, attending a job interview or in everyday conversation, pitching is crucial for getting other people’s support for an idea in order to create action.
So, how do you develop and present a pitch that will inspire your audience to jump on board with your ideas and back your vision?
These are my tips for preparing a successful pitch:
1. Know it back to front
Write down the essence of your idea in a couple of sentences after considering these questions:
- What is your idea?
- What are the facts surrounding your idea?
- Why is your idea valuable?
- What is the problem that your idea will fix or solve?
- How is your idea different to others, and why is your solution the best?
- Who’s going to benefit from your solution?
2. Make it is easy to understand
It’s important that you know how to communicate your pitch simply and clearly. To test this, deliver your pitch to someone outside your class or the industry you work to ensure it is easy for anyone to understand and that you’re not using jargon or industry speak. Ask for their feedback, because the more you can refine and perfect your pitch, the more powerful it will be.
3. Make it impossible to forget
There are 2 ways to share knowledge: you can push information out, or you can draw people in via story. People are more likely to engage with and remember information they receive via stories because “People get transformed and captivated by stories. Stories make people feel something, and when you make someone feel something, you cut through” (Daniel Flynn).
Draw your audience in with story by:
- Being authentic, transparent and passionate
- Showing vulnerability
- Using repetition of your key message
- Appealing to an emotion
- Explaining the problem and your solution
- Giving real world examples that make your pitch relatable to your audience
4. Know what you want
Make sure you know what you want from your audience so that if your pitch goes well, you’re prepared to ask for it.
Now that you’ve developed a strong pitch, it’s time to practice it over and over until you feel comfortable and natural delivering it. Presenting a pitch is a performance, and if you expect to feel nervous, practice will help you feel more confident on the day.
6. Build rapport
The first 90 seconds when you meet the people you are going to pitch to is often the most important, because this is when you’ll make your first impression and build a relationship. You can control what type of relationship you create with your audience by being warm, friendly and positive and taking the time to find common ground with them.
7. Be perceptive and adapt as necessary
When delivering your pitch, keep it as short and concise as you can and stick to the point. It’s important to respect the time of the person or people you’re pitching to and to be able to read the room. If your audience starts looking at their watch, you may be taking too much time, so this is a sign you need to change your approach.
8. Follow up
Don’t let the momentum created by delivering your pitch die. Follow up the day after your pitch to ensure you remain in their mind.
It’s ok if you don’t smash all your pitches. No matter how many times you pitch an idea, there will still be times when you don’t nail it. The important thing is to learn from the experience, continue to practice and refine your pitch, so you can win over the crowd next time you deliver it.