Beyond the Pitch: How to make your audience care
How many pitches have you heard/read in the last six months?
Somewhere between 20 and 100? And how many of those can you remember?
One? Two? None? Why so few, if even any?
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, almost all the ‘pitches’ were too long, complex, confusing, jargon-filled, boring, predictable, general, …
How do you cure a ‘bad’ pitch?
We could try a quick cheat-sheet that addresses the above issues individually. It’s been done – hundreds of times. It’s time to stop pruning the leaves and do root and branch. The way to make your pitch engaging for your audience is to make it about THEM – not you. Simple! And here’s how you do that.
Make your pitch a dialogue between you and your specific audience; rather than the conventional monologue-pitch, i.e. you talking about you to everyone.
Don’t start like this: “Hi, I’m Jack/Jill. I’m a Business Consultant/Financial Advisor/ Life Coach … with 5/6/7/ years experience.
That’s how a monologue begins. And it continues by being way too general and supplying irrelevant details about you and your service or product.
Golden Rule: The simplest way to create a dialogue with the people you want to reach is to tell them a compelling story about themselves!
That’s a story about who they are, what they struggle with, what their goals are and eventually – after you have their attention and got them interested – how you are going to help them solve that problem/reach that goal.
How to begin
The beginning of any successful conversation is to make it easy for people to find themselves in it. Here’s how to do that.
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, freelancers, working women, 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.
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 do that?
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.
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.?
Can they respond to your description with, “Yes, that’s what this problem is costing me!”? If so, you have engaged them in the story you are telling because they can easily recognise themselves in that story.
Can you now provide them with a way forward?
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 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 pitch was successful.
And when they come up to you after the pitching is done, remember it’s because you told them their story in a way that showed them you know their problems and you provide them with a next step. Build on that.
Don’t ruin it now by pushing your story centre stage!