Over prepare so you can go with the flow — this will save you countless sleepless nights lamenting lost opportunities. Confidence is paramount when communicating with investors, partners and clients, and confidence comes from preparedness. Here are the four things you must work on the week before your next pitch meeting so you can walk in feeling like a boss.
Do Your Research
The catch 22 about a pitch is that it needs to not feel like a pitch. It needs to feel focused, and to the point, but above all it needs to be personal. Your pitch needs to take into account your audience first and foremost; who they are, what they’ve done, and where they are going.
So do your research. Scour the Internet and familiarize yourself with everything there is to know about this company and its players. Then write down a few questions you’d like to ask about the business to get a better feel for their goals in the future. Ask ahead of time via email or save these questions for the pitch meeting if you’re feeling extra confident to engage your audience right off the bat. This lets you set the tone for a meeting that’s conversational instead of salesy.
Have a Good Story
Remember your elevator pitch? The ante is upped in a pitch meeting, and now your elevator pitch needs to transform into a full-blown story with heart. Why not just throw numbers at them? Take a look at Apple products, for example. Apple gives its customers more than just features and pricing. Apple products have heart, soul and dancing! Remember the colorful, vibrant iPod ad campaign that made MP3 players a cultural phenomenon? People invest in things based on emotion, not logic. So write your story down, clean it up a bit, and make sure you can tell it in less than 60 seconds. Think about how you’d present it to a seventh grader. If you could hold the attention of a junior high student, your story can hold the attention of anyone.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Record yourself (even if it’s in selfie mode). You will notice things you don’t like. Though listening to a recording of yourself might make you cringe, correcting nervous ticks and tongue ties before your pitch will be worth it. If you mess up, stop and start over. Do your pitch over and over until you can do it three times in a row perfectly — not robotic, but conversational and consistent. Practice on others and encourage them to ask questions. The sillier the better. You want to mitigate your risk of being caught off guard as much as possible, so don’t break character!
Look the Part
We are a visual society. Just look at the success of image- and video-centric social media phenomenons like Instagram and SnapChat. You want to be sure that before you head into this pitch, your social media is on point. That means clean up all your social media accounts of any less-than-flattering content. Make sure your LinkedIn and G+ profiles have an up-to-date and professional profile picture as well.
Dressing the part is just as crucial to that first impression, even if you’ve met before. A pitch meeting is something you don’t want to take lightly. However, the rise of the age of start-ups has drastically blurred the “business casual” line. A pencil skirt and simple silk shell or dress shirt is perfectly classy and timeless. If you’re in a creative field, be sure to add depth to your look with bold accessories like a classic, high quality handbag and simple jewelry.