1. Grab their attention from the word go. People will always remember the first and last thing we say. Try using The Headline Method. It works every time, grabbing their attention just like a newspaper headline does.
Three ways of pitching using the Headline Method: The Hook, The Question and The Shock.
Let’s suppose you wanted to launch a new oven cleaning product and you were facing the Dragons. The Headline system might work like this:
The Hook: ‘Oven cleaning will never be the same again and I’m going to tell you why.’
The Question: ‘Does anyone really like cleaning their oven?’
The Shock: ‘If we don’t move away from using harsh traditional cleaning products we will have played our part in destroying the planet.’
2. Keep it logical. Follow through your persuasive arguments in a logical way – don't allow your nerves (or lack of preparation) make you dart around in all direction making it hard for investors to follow your thoughts.
3. Practice. Once you’ve planned your pitch, time yourself delivering it. Practice, practice, practice. There is no better advice.
4. Push a wall. Nerves tend to tighten our chest and throat, so try this exercise before you pitch. Stand and face a wall. Place both hands on the wall about shoulder height and push really hard, as if you’re trying to push the wall a couple of metres in the direction you’re pushing. After pushing, stand normally and try speaking out loud to yourself. See how much more relaxed and ‘centred’ your voice sounds.
5. Stand up while you’re waiting. You will often be shown into a boardroom before a pitch and offered a seat whilst you wait. Never take it. You don’t want their first impression of you to be struggling up out of a chair, so stay standing. You’ll look more confident if you are on their level as you first meet them.
6. Breathe. Nerves tend to make us speed up, so whilst you’re waiting for your interview, breathe in through your nose very slowly for a count of three. Then breathe out though your nose for a count of three. Repeat this three times. That should take you a total of 18 seconds. In that time you will have significantly lowered your heart rate and when you speak, you’ll find you won’t rush.
7. Squeeze your buttocks! If you find yourself getting nervous at the start, try this exercise – it really works! Squeeze your buttocks or your thighs for the first 20 seconds as you stand to speak and you will find that your voice will sound stronger and lower. This simple technique can help us feel and appear more confident and ‘present’.
8. Wait two seconds before you speak. This will give you an impressive natural power and authority, demanding their attention.
9. Be passionate. Investors will buy into your idea if they feel you’ve bought into it too. But you must be calm, realistic and balanced - avoiding the ‘Game Show Host’ level of energy, which might make you look desperate and out of control.
10. Be yourself. We want to be ourselves when we pitch because if we are being ourselves, we will come across as relaxed, authentic and confident. Try to use words you usually use so you feel like you’re being yourself.
I wish you the very best of luck in your future pitches!
Robin Kermode is founder of communications coaching company ZONE 2 and is author of Speak So Your Audience Will Listen – 7 steps to Confident and Successful Public Speaking which is also available as an audio book.