February 17, 2016
Pitching – ideas, business solutions, services, creative directions – is usually a pretty high-stakes presentation. While different industries and circumstances dictate different formats for pitches, there are five universal elements that every pitch should include – and they all begin with a P!
Here are the Five P’s that should find their way into your next pitch:
Passion. Jim Rohn, the entrepreneur, author, and speaker, has said, “Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.” I couldn’t agree more. If you don’t love your ideas, how could you possibly expect others to? Passion is contagious; it’s engaging. If you feel and embody complete buy-in, you’re much more likely to get your audience’s buy-in.
Picture. When it’s your business or service you’re pitching, your brain has several storage units of information about what you do, the back story, and what you have to offer – more than you can possibly bring to the table for a pitch. You must be able to paint a clear, simple picture of your offering.
To summarize your business succinctly, think about developing a story. Stories can paint a picture that is worth a thousand words. Paint your picture or tell your story in Situation–Dramatic Tension–Resolution format. In other words, a few sentences about the business or market you’re in, a few sentences about hurdles and hiccups you have faced along the way, and a few sentences about where things stand, your niche, or competitive advantage. And, when I say a few, I mean approximately three!
Purpose. State the purpose for your meeting upfront. Don’t leave that to chance. Unless it’s a formally designated Pitch event, I wouldn’t assume that every attendee has been informed as to why they’re in the room. I was once on the receiving end of what the other person thought was a pitch, but I thought it was just a meeting. Toward the end of our time together, I said, “So this was all very interesting, but is there something you need from me or were you just sharing?” Ouch. Turns out, she thought she had pitched me and assumed I knew she was asking for my support.
Problem. There’s always a challenge, a critical need, or a pain point. Be sure to address it concisely but vividly. Here, too, a story or a scenario can be helpful to illustrate the problem. If you’re pitching your business solution, then the client or potential client has outlined the problem for you – but be sure to restate it (ensuring that everyone’s on the same page) and even think beyond it, if possible, to consequences the client may not have anticipated.
Potential. The solution you are bringing has potential opportunity and value. You will need to capture this and be able to put some meat on the bones when you talk about the potential. Is there a time or money value associated with it? Is there a market of targeted or potential users or customers? Can you offer an educated prediction of what the five-year horizon would look like?
One final note: Pitches are often timed – whether in a pitch competition or simply a pitch to a potential new client during a regular meeting time slot. However, even if the pitch you need to deliver is not formally timed, you would be wise to impose a limit on yourself. A good pitch should yield a lot of questions and discussion, and you will want to leave plenty of time for those. Besides being a practical way to reinforce points and build understanding, the discipline of leaving ample time for you and your audience to engage in some back and forth demonstrates your #audience-centricity and #brevity. These are two of the five principles detailed in my book Jock Talk that will help you stand out and be memorable.