So this week I had to deliver my first 60 second elevator pitch to a room full of strangers. Nerve wracking? Yes. But these ‘strangers’ could also help put me in touch with my next big client so common sense rules – I had to get out there!
As you would expect these things are always much more frightening in your head than in practice and actually, people want you to do well, they may be just as nervous as you are!
So I wanted to share with you some of what I have learnt over the last few weeks. Here are my top 4 tips for surviving, skilling up and succeeding with your business pitch:
1. Preparation: Being a Personal Assistant and born organiser it goes without saying that preparation was a no-brainer. I read books (I’d recommend Charlie Lawson’s The Unnatural Networker), online blogs (like this one) and listened to people whose presentation style I admired. Penny Haslam @PHEWexpertwomen gave an inspiring (and funny) presentation where she talked about using ‘FACE’. And no, that’s not advice to smile, although it certainly helps. But using a simple acronym as a tool to pull together what you want to say, in a way that that people want to hear.
- Fact – tell people one interesting fact about your field of work
- Amplify – add value by amplifying that fact
- Comment – give your opinion on the fact
- Example – give a real example of how your business has helped or can help – give it the human touch.
…and repeat! Have a few FACE examples ready to go; keeping your pitch fresh and relatable.
2. Practice: not just in your head but out loud and in front of someone. Even better if that someone can give you constructive criticism. At the very least record yourself and listen to your pace and tone. It’s surprising how different you sound – but that will help you get better. Practice makes perfect!
But…not too much practice. Herein lies the problem; you want to run through your pitch a good few times and with slight variations but never word for word. It’s happened to me, and others I’ve watched before; when you stand up in front of the room and start talking it doesn’t always go to plan and you need to be able to think on your feet. Only YOU know what you were planning to say and if you get stuck for that next perfectly practised word it’s almost impossible to carry on…and “wait a minute I know it”…just won’t cut it. Best to use a tool like FACE so you have defined sections that you can move onto.
3. Breathe: I know people say this all the time and it’s kind of patronising but when your blood is pumping and adrenaline is running high you have to make a concerted effort to breathe, slowly and purposely. It definitely works. It calms the jitters, helps you focus and gives you the ability to control the pace and tone of your voice. Otherwise it all sounds a bit like you’ve sucked on a helium balloon.
4. Don’t Panic: What’s the worst that can happen really? Ok so the presentation might not go as well as you had hoped, maybe you did sound like you’d had a quick puff on the helium balloon but did anyone stand up, tut loudly and proclaim this was the worst pitch in history or worse? Probably not. These are just ordinary people who for the most part wish you well. They may or may not be interested in you and your business and that’s just fine. There may be some experienced presenters listening to you but think how great their advice will be for the next time you have to pitch. Take every opportunity, because there will be a next time…and it will get easier…I hope!