Put Your Best Pitch Forward

When you only have 5 minutes to make your presentation, to persuade busy, influential people that your idea is the best, the only entrepreneurial idea worth supporting, you’d better sound as good as you believe your idea is.

Five Minute Pitch Competitions are a great opportunity for would be entrepreneurs to be heard by a venture capitalist who might be willing to fund their startup. So let’s think about what needs to be heard, and why.

1) Your passion.  You need to be heard as a professional entrepreneur who cares about your potential company, and your product.

2) Your conviction. You need to persuade the audience that you are convinced your idea, or product is excellent because you have done the homework, and your research is thoroughly tested.

3) Your commitment. You need to convince everybody that you are in this for the long haul, and that you have the courage to make it your first priority.

4) Your understanding. You need to share the specifics of your product or idea clearly, succinctly and entertainingly.

Now, you might be forgiven for thinking that if you just write it all down, memorise it, and then speak it out loud, that you will be doing all you need to do.  And you would be wrong, very wrong. Because in the words of the song: “It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it”.

Sounding genuinely passionate and dedicated with conviction is not as easy as it… sounds.  It is easy to sound like an infomercial salesperson, because we hear them on the telly and we know how to imitate them.  However, pretending to sell something, over-enthusing about it is a real turnoff, and many a brilliant potential entrepreneur has disappeared over the horizon as a result of a poorly presented pitch. At the other extreme are the “um-mers” and “er-ers”, who may be very passionate and well-prepared, but who simply do not hear themselves accurately, or do not have enough innate confidence in themselves to allow their speech to flow naturally and easily.

For a thoroughly excellent run down of the kind of things you need to include in your presentation, check out this blog posting by Bill Cunningham, “The Pitch Doctor”.

Then think about your voice, the physical means by which you will share those excellent facts and that passionate conviction.

You ARE your voice.  The you that exists in the moment of speaking is the one that is heard. So if you are tense, nervous, aggressive, shy, arrogant, insecure or a combination of some of all of these, that is what your audience hears. Your words may be full of confidence, but if your voice is apprehensive then that is what the audience perceives.

And that is one extremely vital element that stands between you and the fulfilment of your entrepreneurial dream.

Have you ever taken part in a Pitch Competition? Are you comfortable with the sound of your own voice? When you are irritated by a particular speaker, are you aware how much the sound of his or her voice contributes to your response?

Join the conversation, and leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your views on this topic. And please share with your friends and colleagues.

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24 November 2012

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