You’ve got a great product and now you need to build the market around it. Whether you’re selling the idea into investors, customers, the media, or potential partners, pitching is the action that takes you from a good idea to a good business. Some people are born salespeople; most of us aren’t. It’s a skill we all need, and the good news is that it’s a skill we can acquire with practice and dedication. Here are some ideas of how to gain the confidence to successfully sell in your idea to any audience.
1.) Remember that a pitch is a conversation.
Sure you’re in the hot seat to kick off the conversation, but pitching is just as much about listening as it is about talking. Throughout a pitch, you’re gathering insights and information from the body language and comments of the people in the room with you. Focus on the audience. Make eye contact. Talk to someone. Ask questions. Making the pitch interactive will help you tap into the very people you want to buy into your idea.
2.) Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
Take up improv, test drive a new hobby, try out a new class at your gym. The more comfortable you are with trying anything new, the more comfortable you’ll feel outside your comfort zone. Acquiring new skills will give you confidence that spills over into all the areas of your life and makes new situations less intimidating.
3.) Practice makes pitch perfect
Prepare for your pitch the way an actor prepares for a play. You can’t just review your presentation notes and ideas. You need to string the words together and bring life to those words many times over before the pitch actually happens. Practice out loud and hear yourself making the pitch. This trick is even more effective if you have a small live audience to give you feedback. And yes, in a pinch your mirror, dog, or cat count as an audience, too!
4.) Do your research
Know exactly whom you will pitch to and their backgrounds so you can add some personal touches to the presentation. What are the specific challenges these people are trying to solve? What things do you have in common with them? If they have a social media presence on any platform, check it out. This research will also help you discover if you share any connections, and if you do those connections may be able to offer you valuable insights that will inform the way you craft your pitch.
5.) Start small and build
If you’re new to pitching, start small. Lower stakes will help alleviate some of the anxiety around pitching and you will learn a lot in the process. Before I ever pitched a business for a copywriting job, I did a lot of pitching for free guest posts on blogs I admired. Once I learned what resonated the most with website owners (and I had a small portfolio to showcase), I began to pitch for bigger jobs. This process of building up to big pitches helped build my confidence and expertise.
The whole secret to pitching is to feel comfortable with your story and to be able to show that your skills and experience can solve the problems and challenges that other people have. Practice, know your audience, and focus your attention on the people in front of you and you’ll be well on your way from pitching to winning.
About the Author:
Christa Avampato is a product developer, freelance writer, and yoga and meditation teacher based in New York City. She blogs daily about the art of creative living at Christa In New York: Curating a Creative Life and is an advisor for LaunchHouse.