So you think you can pitch? Think again

It’s time to take a new approach to power up your pitch.

As a business owner, you will be used to pitching. Pitching for sales, pitching your vision to the team, pitching for investment, pitching to attract talented staff, pitching for PR opportunities – the list goes on.

I thought I was good at pitching and I’ve had some epic wins over the years to give me that confidence. I’ve successfully pitched for a number of competitive six-figure contracts, persuaded judging panels at a national awards final that I’m a worthy winner, pitched my new business to attract a high performing team and, my latest win, a contract with a FTSE 100 company pitching a product that doesn’t yet exist. My preference is to pitch face to face, but I’m comfortable over Zoom, telephone and email too. 

Recently, I was asked to sit on the judging panel at the inaugural Ideas Fest business festival. As an aside, it was ace and you should definitely keep an eye out for future events. The brief was to watch five founders in each session pitch for a 5K marketing campaign for their business. Alongside my fellow judges, I watched ten pitches that day. What I saw blew my mind and reminded me of the importance of always learning and not getting complacent. 

First up was Hector from Unplugged who opened with a story, a story about how we’ve become addicted to our phones and why we need to take time out to unplug from this constant noise. Hector caught my attention immediately. He highlighted a problem I could relate to and then presented the solution, and he was super confident in his delivery. 

Krissy from Bankscore was next up. She engaged the audience immediately by starting her pitch with questions that applied to us all. The audience were nodding away as Krissy got us to think about the ethics of the banks we trust with our money, mortgages and more. 

One of the most impressive pitches came from Thomas and Hugo who are soon to launch Greenr. Their vision to be the green and sustainable rival to amazon was bold and their pitch seamless. It was clear they have been pitching together a lot, it was like watching a married couple. A happily married couple that finish each other’s sentences! 

These are just a few examples. I could write something positive about every single founder pitching that day because they were all amazing. And what did they all have in common? They had nailed the art of storytelling. 

With this in mind, here’s some tips to try for your next pitch:

Your audience will remember the story, so start with this. When you are pitching, you might think you need to lead with impressive stats and hit the audience with your credibility so that they pay attention. You do need to bring those points into the pitch, but only once you’ve got the viewers hanging onto every word. 

Connect with the audience on an emotional level to grab their attention. Help them to visualise why your product or service is relevant to them and what they will get from it. Often, this emotional buy-in can be just as important to get the result you want as the hard facts and figures. 

Don’t underestimate the power of your delivery. You need to know your stuff and be able to deliver with as little support as possible so that your style is natural and you are able to engage with the audience. 

So, as I’ve come to understand, don’t settle with your pitching style. Watch others and learn from them – the good and the bad. If you’ve used the same approach for years, switch it up and try something new. It might just bring you new (and better) results. 

Ready to accept the challenge? 

Sophie Milliken
Sophie Milliken

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