How do artists get better at their craft? They practice of course but they also pay attention to the mistakes they make. The same goes for any other person who wants to get better at what they do. I trust you want to get better at pitching your ideas. And as a painter visits galleries to view other artists’ work, makes notes about techniques to then try things on their own, you too can watch other pitchers in action. But most of all and most importantly, before you do that you should try these three things that will make your pitch better.
To pitch is to distill your point to its persuasive essence. To both inform and persuade. And all of that in the limited time. Why? Because you are operating within the matrix of expectations and opportunities. And because your are fighting against short attention span and cognitive overload, you’ve got a tough job to do. But working on a pitch can be satisfactory.
Answer three questions
First, you need to answer three simple questions. Simple they may seem, but very often startups I work with, find it difficult to answer them in a equally simple manner. Take a moment and think:
- What do you want them to know?
- What do you want them to feel?
- What do you want them to do?
After hearing your pitch. If you have got strong answers to these three questions then you are on a good track. The pitch will come together more easily. Think like TED speakers. They distill their talk into one idea that is (you guessed it) worth spreading.
Record your pitch
Once you answer those questions, it’s time to craft a firm narrative based on the following template I advocated so many times: big idea (context), problem, solution, potential for the solution (the key benefits) and call-to-action. Practice it and… record it. Use front camera and record the full story. Then analyse it. Track the words that are useless. Make it simpler. And record it again. Try calling yourself and leave a voice mail with your pitch or dictate it using a voice recording app.
Then listen – alone or with people who can help you determine the clarity and quality of your narrative. Does your saying make sense? How’s your tone? Your rate of speech? I know that listening to your own voice or watching yourself on camera can be painful. Trust me though – It’s a smart way to practice and to spare yourself embarrassment in the future. But apart from learning on your won mistakes, learn from others. Keep a pitch notebook, watch great talks on TED and other conferences. Watch and analyse other peoples talk, pitches, stories. Become a curious researcher. Trust me, it’s fun.
It all goes down to crafting a firm narrative and delivering it in a engaging way. And to always be testing. That’s how we humans learn.