Pitches are the spine of a startup. With a strong pitch you can go anywhere and do anything and even capture funding. This simple guide give you 8 steps to make sure you work through your pitch and leave the best mark possible. It should be said that cultivating a proper pitch takes time, trial and error, and lots of feedback.
Consider what the expectations for this pitch, what is the audience expecting to hear? What interests do they have? Each pitch needs to be curtailed to each individual audience or situation. Think about what you would like to say and how you can effectively cover your idea in detail. Take this time in silence to yourself just to consider all aspects.
After you have taken 5 – 10 minutes to consider the aspects of your presentation, take out scrap paper and a writing utensil. Create notes, outlines, flow charts, and bullets on your speaking notes. I often find that it helps me to take a sheet of paper, draw square boxes that represent each slide for my powerpoint presentation and draw pictures or write words in the boxes to depict the story I will be telling. Next, I draw arrows to connect the boxes or number them in the order they need to be in. Make sure all these boxes cover what is at least expected, then go above and beyond that to fill the extra time.
Now that you have a sketch of the content, open your presentation software. Begin translating this flowchart of ideas into slides. Create your slideshow, create the supporting documents to accompany your presentation, and create one master set of everything for yourself to study and keep on hand. The standard of your presentation should be higher and more detailed than what is expected.
Now that everything is created, begin your review and fine-tuning process. Look over everything and take notes. Once you have your review done, give your materials to a friend or mentor to critique, then adjust the documents and presentation accordingly.
Give a full-energy presentation using all your materials first off, don’t ease into it. Never do a slack-job practice run-through; practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. After you have become familiar with your presentation in its entirety, ask a friend, parent, or mentor to sit down and listen to the full session. Take their feedback and apply it to your presentation. Lastly, after you have a good grasp on the content, give a full presentation with no materials. If you can give a thorough presentation with nothing to aide you, you will be prepared for anything.
To make sure you are completely prepared for an on-the-go presentation, be able to give your presentation with no materials, no visual aid, and no prompts. When you can accomplish this, you will be able to give your presentation without staring at your cue cards, projection screen, or computer (these things will take from your credibility with investors, judges, and audiences). Again, this step gives you the ability to make a full presentation to anyone at any time. Know your presentation the best you can.
Nerves can be channeled into energy and make your presentation better. It is normal to be nervous. There are a few things you can do to help either expel the nerves or hype your nerves up to be beneficial. Arrive where you are supposed to be early, take time to breathe deep through your nose and out through your mouth. This breathing will calm you down. You can slowly stretch to relieve stress. Stretch each part of your body (toes, hands, neck, face, feet, legs, everything). If you prefer hyping up and going into your presentation full of energy, finish by making noise, shaking each part of your body, and jumping around. These methods might make your look or feel goofy but you will definitely feel the difference, your presentation will exemplify the difference too.
Nothing left to it now but to do it! You can use this process each time you have an upcoming presentation.
Presentations can be daunting, nerve-wracking, and just plain scary. This process, if taken seriously will make you feel much better about yourself, sharpen your presentation to its finest point, and channel your best. Look your audience in the eyes, scan from person to person, speak with a confident, steady, but passionate tone, and use gestures meaningfully not abundantly. Be aware of your posture, if needed, roll your shoulders back and place your fingers at the seam of your pants this will put you in a strong alignment. Walk with confidence in a strong stride. Ultimately, just do your best, plain and simple.