We’re in front of our target audience – either in-person or (more and more these days…) virtually – and the floor is ours. This is our perfect chance to raise awareness about what we’re doing and maybe even (*fingers crossed*) score a new customer.
… But we drop the mic – and not in a good way.
Maybe we weren’t clear. Maybe we rambled. Maybe we left our audience confused rather than enticed. What we really did was miss an opportunity.
But how can we get better and learn from this? How can we avoid similar mishaps moving forward? How can we be proactive and make the most of our spotlight?
Well, we must learn to pitch ourselves.
BUILDING YOUR BEST PITCH → A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE:
STEP 1 - GET CLEAR ON WHAT YOU'RE TRYING TO SAY AND REFINE YOUR KEY POINTS.
If you don’t have a solid understanding of your own key points, there’s no way you’ll be able to communicate them to someone else.
STEP 2 - BE ABLE TO CONCISELY EXPLAIN WHO YOU ARE TO YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE.
Once you know your key points, the next step is learning to convey them to your audience in a compelling and informative way.
Keep in mind that in our digital world of instant gratification, people have increasingly short attention spans. Half of being compelling is being short and to the point.
From the start, draw your audience in by telling them why they should care about what you have to say.
Who are you?
How can you help them?
What is your call to action?
What do they stand to gain if they take you up on your call to action?
Work to refine your message to a few key sentences.
If you have more time, then you can substantiate your main points with secondary benefits, examples, case studies, or any other supporting material. Always start with your most compelling pieces first to draw them in.
STEP 3 - PRACTICE!
Finally, as with so many other skills in life, the key to success here is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.
Practice in front of the mirror, walk through it with friends and family, record yourself and play it back – find whatever method works best for you, but don’t practice on your target audience!
If you can’t impart your message clearly and concisely in these practice settings, it’s very unlikely that you will magically be able to do so in front of your audience. Don’t miss an opportunity! Refine your pitch before ever stepping in front of them.
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Whether you have 30 seconds, 5 minutes, 15 minutes, or even a whole hour to talk about yourself and your business, it's essential to be practiced and prepared for each scenario. The video below details how you can adapt your pitch according to the allotted time:
REPLACE THE FLUFF WITH SUPPORT
Do you have points in your 60 minute presentation that aren’t included in your 30 seconds? If so, the most important question to ask is WHY?
Perhaps this is a key point that’s missing from your 30 second pitch. If so, work to incorporate it.
Most likely, however, this additional point is fluff. Fluff is the enemy of a concise and effective pitch.
Now an hour may seem like a long time to you. If someone gives you 60 minutes for a pitch or presentation, you may be wondering how you can fill that time without fluff. Here’s the secret – replace the fluff with support.
The key to making any effective pitch is to know your main points. These points should not change if you have more time! Rather, any additional time you have should be used to support the main points.
The best way to refine your message is to perform a series of calisthenics, honing your 30 second pitch before moving up to your 5 minute pitch, then 15 minutes, and finally 60 minutes. Once you’ve hit 60 minutes, you’ll then want to work your way back down to 30 seconds:
30 SECONDS - YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH
Your 30 second pitch is your core content. The most important thing you can do during this limited time is answer the biggest questions your audience has:
Who are you?
How can you help them?
What are you trying to convey?
What do you need them to know about this opportunity?
What is the call to action?
You should be able to concisely and clearly answer these questions. If you find yourself rambling, you don’t know the answers as well as you should.
This 30 second time frame is primarily focused on making statements and then supporting them as much as you can given the limited time.
Arguably one of the most important questions is the last one – the call to action. Some people feel awkward at this stage, but what’s the point of delivering a compelling pitch if there’s nothing that comes of it? Your call to action needs to be as clear and simple as possible so interested parties can proceed to the next step.
Keep in mind that with a 30 second pitch, your main focus will most likely be laying the groundwork for a longer conversation later.
MORE TIME = MORE SUPPORT
Longer time frames are used to support the key statements from your 30 second pitch. You’ll expand on them further, adding in the why and the how. What stories can you add that add color and drive your key points home?
Part of this support is also knowing people’s potential objections and getting to them first. Doing so builds credibility, strengthens your pitch, and can help your audience feel understood – almost as if you’re taking the words and questions straight out of their mouths.
So ask yourself this: “What questions do you hope your audience won’t ask?” Answer those and reap the rewards.
DRILL BACK DOWN TO 30 SECONDS
Once you’ve streamlined your longer pitches and they’re clean, sharp, and prepared, REVERSE IT. Go back down from 60 minutes, to 15 minutes, to 5 minutes, all the way to the 30 second mark.
The real power of this revisit is to look closely at your longer pitches and find any nuggets you can use to bolster your shorter ones:
What did you discover?
What were your most compelling pieces of evidence?
What were the most punchy stories/bits that made your 60 minute presentation sing?
By the end of this process, you’ll come out prepared to wow your target audience no matter how many seconds or minutes allotted.
Well, there you have it! I truly hope you use the steps above to take the guesswork out of your messaging and maximize the opportunities that come your way.
We don’t get endless opportunities to convey our message, so let’s make the most of each one. If you want some hands-on help with this, feel free to book a free Strategy Session with me and we'll get you headed in the right direction.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Leo Manzione, co-founder of Montage, loves seeing a business owner equipped for success. When he's not in a strategic session or working with his team to build the tools business owners need most, he can be found swimming laps while listening to an audiobook or on a hike with his wife. He calls the Pacific Northwest home.