Pitching isn’t a straightforward task; you need to make sure you have all the elements in place; message, content, structure and the skill to deliver it, as well as whatever props or slides you need to do so with impact.
Of course getting all these elements in place is where your planning and preparation comes in – and nothing can replace the benefits of rehearsal and critique before you go live.
We sometimes work with clients who have very specific needs; they just want help to polish their delivery or they want us to come in, to see how water-tight their messaging is. But more often than not, when new business and pitch teams look at the process they have in place, they know that picking at loose threads will usually just cause the rest of the presentation to unravel, so they ask our team to come in with an open mind, and help them with whichever parts, we feel, need focussing on.
One common problem is that while only those within a business can really ever know how it works, this detail can sometimes hold you back – potential clients for example need to know the key facts about you and your work – all the detail you have to share is likely to drown them in unnecessary facts and figures. Using a third party to help you see both what is important to share and what isn’t, is a great way to ensure you can see the wood from the trees. Providing too much detail can also be a disaster for PowerPoint and other slide decks; no one wants to read 75 pages of small print up on a screen, and if they’re just reading your script to themselves why do you need to even be there? The audience are there to see and hear you; they want you to guide them through your story, to explain why it’s important to listen to you and what the message means for them.
Rehearsing will also help anxious presenters work out any nerves as they become more comfortable with the content, but good trainers will also be able to give them the tips and tricks to overcome anxiety, as well as the umms and ahhhs.
Being able to playback and critique your performance is also a hugely valuable tool as you’ll hear whether the message gets across clearly but also be able to assess what changes you’ll need to make to your soft skills. Even the tiniest subconscious ticks or habits can be very distracting for your audience but can be cut out easily once you know you do them.
There is no easy way to perfect your pitches; it takes time to practice, an effort to rethink the process and perhaps most importantly; a willingness from all those involved, to make the changes to invigorate the current approach – the fact is that change is sometimes necessary to move yourself to the next level.
Written by Will Edwards – www.bluewoodtraining.co.uk – November 2012