How to Pitch?
The #1 strategy for success is simple and very effective. Make you Audience Care.
What’s Wrong with the Pitch?
How many pitches have you heard/read in the last six months? How many of those do you remember?
One? Two? None? Why so few, if even any? What was wrong with the pitch?
This is the question that kicked off our workshop recently on how to move beyond the standard ‘pitch’ and engage your audience.
According to the participants, here’s what was wrong with the standard pitch and needed fixing. Almost all the pitches were too long, complex, confusing, jargon-filled, boring, predictable, general, self-promotional … They all agreed that they were completely indifferent to what was being pitched because it didn’t matter to them.
How to pitch?
We could answer the question, How to Pitch?, with a quick cheat-sheet that addresses some of the above issues, e.g. boring, confusing, etc. It’s been done – hundreds of times. It’s time to stop pruning the leaves and do a root and branch job that will not only make real improvements, but will also create a pitch template. To get to that place where your audience cares, let’s start with with a simple and effective strategy to improve a ‘bad’ pitch.
To make your audience care about your pitch it has to be engaging for them. And the way to engage your audience is to make your pitch about THEM – not you, as I’ve already talked about. It’s simple and here’s how you do that.
Your Pitch Should be a Dialogue
The answer the question, How to Pitch?, is to make your pitch a dialogue between you and your audience – instead of the conventional monologue-pitch. Forget the sales pitch! It repels an audience because they’ve heard it before and they’re looking for an alternative to the sales pitch, as I pointed out here.
Here’s an example of the typical monologue-pitch. It start something like this: “Hi, I’m Jack/Jill. I’m a Business Consultant/Financial Advisor/ Life Coach … with 5/6/7/ years experience…
And the monologue continues by being way too general and supplying irrelevant details about you and your service or product.
The Golden Rule: The simplest way to create a dialogue with the people you want to reach is to talk to them about what they care about – themselves!
Start with the audience not with you. Let them know you know who they are, what they struggle with, what their goals are and how you are going to help them solve that problem/reach that goal. The rules for a successful pitch apply to all forms of audience interaction, from in- house to virtual presentations – it’s about creating a relationship, not a sales opportunity. My advice about making presentations interactive also applies to your pitch.
The #1 Strategy
The #1 strategy for a successful pitch is have them respond 3 times with “Yes!”.
The beginning of any successful conversation is to make it easy for people to know that you are talking to them. So call them by their name! Not their personal first name, but the name they use to define themselves in business. Instead of using a generic term, e.g. business owner, coaches, professionals, working women, etc. name your niche, (one niche per pitch), e.g. career coaches, working women over 40 stuck on the career ladder, service-based micro-business owners, etc.
1. Can they say, “Yes, that’s me!”? If so, you’ve got their attention and they are responding – silently.
But audience attention is a fleeting phenomenon.
You now need to move beyond grabbing their attention to engaging them.
What’s the most effective way to engage your audience?
Describe a challenge they know they have in their own words. Dump the jargon, the hype, the buzz-words. Have you listened to how they describe their problems? Use those words instead of your fancy phrases – if you want your words to resonate. How do they describe the problem of not being able to find enough customers, or the right customers, or to get their offers right, etc.
2. If they can respond to your description with “Yes, that’s my problem right now!”, you’re gaining trust.
Now take it a step further and pull them into a deeper dialogue with you and describe the consequences of these problems, i.e. where it hurts exactly. Have they cash-flow issues because they can’t find enough clients, or is their business stagnating because they don’t have a business plan, etc.?
3. Can they respond to your description with, “Yes, that’s what this problem is costing me!”? If so, you have engaged them in your pitch because they can easily recognise themselves in it.
Can you now provide them with a way forward?
Once you have elicited “Yes!” three times from your audience, it’s now time to go for the bonus “Yes!”. That will make them want to know more about you and connect with you post-pitch.
For example, you have developed a state-of-the-art data base system or a new app, etc., that you know could solve the challenges they face right now. Avoid a self-promotional monologue about your product here. No one (except you) is interested in the technical specifics right now. Tell them instead how your system/app will solve THEIR problem, e.g. increase sales, make it easier to find better clients, improve automation efficiency by 50%, etc.
If they can say, “Yes, I want to hear more about that!”, your made that post-pitch connection.
And when they follow up, remember it’s because you talked to them about what matters to them in a way that showed them tht you know their problems and you can provide them with the next step. Build on that.
Don’t ruin it now by turning the conversation into a monologue!
A Final Word on How to Pitch
Times are changing. Your pitch is also part of your message, your tagline, your website headline, your sales letter introduction, your profile text, etc. It’s on all your social media content. it’s an important work-in-progress until you get it right.Learn More
While driving home from a recent peer-to-peer session, I had time to reflect on the huge benefits of sharing where we’re at with like-minded people. As we all went our separate ways, there was a clear sense that we had moved through many similar issues and we had new tools to meet the challenges we faced.
How had we managed to make such progress during our few hours together? One obvious answer is that we provided a mirror for each other that let us see the blind spots in our thinking that we can’t see from the ‘inside’ perspective.
I’m talking here about being willing to listen to each other – without the compulsion to fix, save or sort out.
Thinking back on the individual stories, I noticed how we got to a place where something magical happened for all of us. Something so simple and so powerful you wonder why we don’t devote far more time in schools, families, workplaces, communities, etc. to nourishing and nurturing it.
Here are some of the benefits of being listened to by others: we feel seen and heard, and acknowledged for who we are and where we are right now.
There are also enormous benefits for us as active listeners.
When we fully listen to others we are guided to ask the right questions. These are the questions that will give them the opportunity to discover their own ability to find the best solutions.
Here’s when we humans are seriously challenged, when we get in our own way, when we slip into ‘authority’ mode and when we can sabotage the great benefits peer-to-peer coaching offers.
We have unlearned how to listen deeply to each other.
Instead of giving our full and undivided attention to what the other person is saying, far too often we feel compelled to dole out unsolicited advice. And the message we send out to someone with our ‘advice’ – however well-intended – is that we don’t think they are capable of solving their own problems. It also kills the conversation before it begins.
So, how do we listen deeply to each other instead of rushing to give advice?
Knowing what listening is NOT is a good pace to start and Simon Sinek’s quote will help do just that: “There is a difference between listening and waiting for your turn to speak.”
As someone who spent decades teaching and lecturing, in other words, constantly giving out advice and information, it took quite some time and practice to re-cultivate my listening skills and abandon the podium position.
Here are 3 simple strategies I’ve learned to improve the quality of my conversations (insider tip – it’s all about practice).
- Let’s start with our human anatomy. We have TWO ears and ONE mouth, i.e. remind yourself of that ratio next time you want to speak!
- Know the difference and practise the difference between listening and hearing. ‘Hearing’ refers to the sounds that automatically come to us. ‘Listening’ requires us to pay full attention to what is being said and how it is being said, i.e. we must become active listeners for not just the words, but also the body language, tone of voice, silences, etc.
- Resist all temptations to interrupt – no matter how much you believe you know what needs to be said, or not said. You actually don’t know! Instead, listen and allow the question to surface that could direct the person to their solution and ask your question after they have finished speaking.
By listening and asking the ‘right’ question we are helping others get a clearer picture of what they need to do and how they can implement the changes they are ready to make.
Deep, active & generous listening.
These are essential ingredients for dialogues that can become truly magical experiences!Learn More