If you’re very lucky you may only have to do one or two things to perfect your pitching but for most people it’s a few things that each need to be tweaked and worked on.
Getting feedback from your audience, both those who liked your pitch, and often more importantly, those who didn’t, can be hugely valuable as you try and improve your technique. But whether you have this feedback or not, you can always analyse your own performance.
Recording a practice presentation or pitch is always time well spent, the footage doesn’t need to be in full HD quality, it just needs to give you a chance to objectively assess how you come across to your prospects. But what should you look for?
First, make sure you are trying to reflect the real-life process. If you pitch as a team, it helps to practice as one, if you present standing up, do this in the rehearsal and if you use visual aids, make sure you trial this on camera too.
Second, consider how you look. Many people spot little tics and habits they didn’t realise they even did; clicking that pen on and off, or jangling keys in a pocket, is easily fixed by putting them out of reach during the live presentation, but other elements are likely to need more work. How’s your eye contact? Are you looking up and over the whole audience, or just focusing on a script (if so it’s time to ditch the notes and memorise more) – if you don’t look at the people you are speaking to, how can you check they are following along with you? Does your body-language look open and confident, or are your arms folded making you look defensive – again, you might not even realise you are doing it but it makes a big difference to how the audience perceive you.
Third, you have to objectively judge whether your message came across. Would your main proposition be the one thing that the audience remembered – if not you may be letting other ideas drown it out.
Fourth, would you be convinced by the pitch? If the answer to this is no, there are a few things you will have consider e.g. did you come across as authoritative? Were you believable? Did the content back-up and support your proposition? Were you using the pitch to draw-in and build a relationship with the prospect?
Our training courses use a cameraman so we can analyse the practice with you, as it’s so important for people to be able to see for themselves, how they come across.
This is a tough process to put yourself through, and it may take a few practice runs to nail (however much it may make you cringe to watch yourself on the playback!) it, but as you start to critique your performance, you’ll be able to make huge improvements in the way you perform, and then you’ll be well on the way to perfecting the pitch.
Written by Will Edwards – www.bluewoodtraining.co.uk – November 2013