One of the most common rebuttals I hear when working with new Pitch Training Camp clients is this, “I don’t need to script my pitch. I seem more authentic when I deliver it without one.”
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Sure, when you first start to get comfortable with your message, you’re focused on memorization and might sound a bit like a robot. But as you work through the process and after you’ve truly practiced your pitch enough, you’ll discover that you your every word, every pause, every motion can be delivered with purpose.
Forget practicing. You need to rehearse. You need to approach your pitch like a performance. You need to prepare as if you’re about to step out onto a stage, the star of the show.
Over my three days at Heroic Public Speaking Live, I certainly learned a lot and, as I tend to do, I took extensive notes. You can expect to hear me reference this event repeatedly over the next few months as I process all of the powerful strategies, tips, and approaches shared.
During one of the HPS workshops, Michael Port suggested that when preparing for a keynote, you must rehearse. In rehearsing, you are trying to “create an experience that you can do over and over again as if it were the first time.” The same applies to your pitch.
With this, I’d also suggest you use Michael Port's 8 step process to ensure you’re properly prepared to deliver your pitch performance.
1. Table Read
When actors are preparing for their part, they’ll often spend a good week, reading their script over and over again. Through this process they are familiarizing themselves with the words, getting comfortable speaking them and discovering how they are best delivered.
After you write out your pitch, you should do the same thing. Practice reading, and work towards memorizing the words. You’ll want to read your script out loud as it always sounds different when spoken.
2. Content Mapping
Now that you are familiar with your script, analyze it. Identify any operative words, beats or pauses, and transitions that you should build into the way you deliver your pitch. Placing emphasis on the right words can fuel your pitch and keep them listening. Beats not only give you a moment to breathe, it allows your audience to consume what you’ve just said. Transitions, often a place for movement or a change of pace, can also build intrigue and allow you to come across with more personality.
You’ll want to mark up your script with visual indications to guide you while you continue to read and rehearse your pitch.
If you’re delivering your pitch for a competition or in front of a crowd, you’ll also want to decide where you want to stand for each part of the pitch. It’s important that you don’t move just to move. Wandering on stage can cause you to lose authority. However, intentional movement can make your pitch more memorable, painting a scene in front of their eyes. It also can help them organize the information you are delivering into logical parts.
Now that you are familiar with your script and how you want to deliver it, you need to rehearse. You need to get on your feet and perform. Speak out loud, in the voice you’d use when delivering your pitch. Be over the top with your movements. Try different things out. Feel what you are doing and saying. It is through this process that you’ll discover the best way to perform your pitch.
After rehearsing a few times, you'll likely have edits to your script. Maybe you’re changing a few words because they sound better out loud? Maybe you are putting emphasis on a different word or adding a long pause? Maybe you have found a gesture that really supports what you are saying? Edit your script and the rehearse again. Edit, rehearse, repeat.
6. Invited Rehearsal
So you’re confident in your pitch. You now have it memorized, have rehearsed it more times than you can count and are ready for feedback. Certainly, the first time you deliver your pitch should NOT be in front of investors. Invite people you trust over to give you genuine feedback. Your spouse, best friend, or mom may not be the best person for this. You want those that will listen and make sure that your message is clear. There's no time for biased feedback and hurt feelings.
You can guide these feedback conversations, by asking them questions like these after you've delivered your pitch:
- What was the big idea?
- What problem are we trying to solve?
- How do we solve that problem?
- What are we asking for?
By asking these questions and listening to what your test audience has and hasn't gathered, you’ll be able to adjust and ensure that your message is even more clear and concise.
7. Tech Rehearsal
Do you plan to wear a mic? Will you be using slides? Maybe you have to use one of those clickers that never seem to work? You’ll want to rehearse with your technology. Make sure you are familiar with how to use it and get comfortable with it.
Warning: You should always be prepared to work around your technology. What if your clicker doesn’t work? What if you unexpectedly can’t use slides? You can’t be held back by your technology. Be prepared to pitch without it.
8. Dress Rehearsal
What you wear is important. You need to select an outfit that will send the right message to your audience. It should match your personality but still compliment the audience. It doesn’t have to be cool or expensive, but you do want to make sure it will allow you to move as you need to and won’t diminish the authority and respect you need from your audience.
Your pitch is not something you want to just whip together. You do not want to “wing-it”. A properly prepared and expertly delivered pitch will increase your odds of getting funded, landing partnerships, catching the media’s attention and more.
Are you ready to take your pitch seriously? I think It’s time you performed your pitch like a star.