We are all pitchers. We pitch ideas, we pitch ourselves and we pitch our organizations. We pitch to get a job, to attract followers and to raise money.
Maybe you’re not a major league pitcher yet but you will be.
For a long time I’ve been interested in story development and how stories influence behavior. So, I’ve learned that decisions are emotional, making a good story your best bet for donations.
There’s also plenty of evidence that a well delivered – live and in person – pitch is the most convincing of all.
We’ve seen Shark Tank. We know they “buy” the person, not the product.
Visionary nonprofit leaders need to be good storytellers. And they need to make pitches.
You can learn to love speaking and pitching. You’ll love it a whole lot more when you are good at it.
First you have to know some basic rules.
Five Golden Rules for Pitch Perfect
- Get personal.
Your audience (of 1 or 500) wants to connect with you. That connection comes first. It’s the reason they will want to hear more.
When you give them a peek at who you are they become curious. They want to know you so they want to hear what you have to say.
The simple rule number 1 is this: If they don’t care, they won’t listen.
Give them reason to care about you.
- Vision focuse
It’s your dream that will captivate your audience. You want to share your vision so it becomes their vision.
The work you are doing is important but it’s not what compels people to care. Same with the facts and figures. The details and the numbers are there to validate the decision your audience has already made based on emotion.
The gist of your message is this: There is a problem and we can solve it or There is a need an we can fill it.
- Practice delivery.
Practice really does pay. Whether you do it in the bathroom mirror or in front of a speech coach, practice improves your delivery.
You may consider getting outside help or joining a speaking group, like Toastmasters, to develop your skills. Toastmasters takes you through a series of 10 speeches, each one focusing on a specific skill.
Eliminating filler words (ums and ahs), using body language, varying your volume and speaking persuasively are all skills that come from practice.
- Be prepared.
Preparation is about more than practice. Make a checklist and give yourself time to be ready.
Arrive early. Lateness might make someone else mad but mostly it’s going to through you off your game.
Dress for success. Wear clothing that is comfortable but neat, clean and business like. Being well groomed makes you feel good and eliminates obstacles for your audience.
Use great visuals or none at all. We’ve all seen too many bad PowerPoints.
Know the names you need to know. Review your notes. Smile. Yes, a really big smile.
After you pitch, listen carefully to the feedback. There is nothing more off-putting than someone asking for help and then not listening when it is offered.
Be open to whatever feedback you get.
If you are speaking to a large audience, have someone critique your presentation so you can review later.