Making the perfect pitch is one of the most helpful skills to develop. Making a pitch is primarily associated with selling an idea at work, but this is a broad way of looking at pitches. While the workplace is a common place for pitch meetings, you make thousands of pitches throughout your life.
Any time you want to convince someone to do something, you are making a pitch. Even something small, like convincing your friends to see a movie with you on the weekend is a pitch. Pitches vary in difficulty depending on what you are trying to sell. Convincing your boss to accept a new company policy is significantly harder than convincing a friend to go to your favorite restaurant for lunch.
No matter what you are trying to pitch, the pitch itself follows the same formula. When crafting your pitch, think about both what goes into a good pitch and what makes a pitch fall short. It is possible for you to have to improvise during your pitch, so knowing what areas to avoid is just as important as knowing what to focus on.
Get to the Point
One of the most common tips when you apply for a job is to keep your resume short and to the point, highlighting your top skills and experience. A resume is just a pitch where you attempt to convince someone to hire you. Whenever you make a pitch, you always want to highlight the most important aspects of whatever you are trying to pitch.
With your resume, if you are applying for an engineering job, then you lead with your engineering degree or previous jobs you worked as an engineer. You do not talk about the summer you spent working as a receptionist. This past work experience is not technically bad because it highlights your other skills and shows you are a hard worker, but it does not have the same strength and relevancy of the other examples.
The reason including other examples is bad is it weakens the strength of your leading argument. To whoever is listening to your pitch, it comes off as you not being confident in your initial examples, so now you are trying to provide even more details to elevate your idea. If your pitch is too long, then you also risk veering off topic or losing the interest of whoever you are pitching to.
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Harvard Business School famously coined the idea of the elevator pitch. During the elevator pitch, you have one minute, roughly the length of an elevator ride, to sell someone on your pitch. The idea is if you have a strict time limit, you only focus on your strongest, most persuasive points to get your pitch across.
Pitches Are Not Business Plans
Remember, a pitch is not always about conveying an entire project. Simple tasks may be summed up in a pitch, but in the workplace, you typically pitch an idea to land a meeting. During your meeting, you present your business plan, which contains a much more detailed layout of your project.
For example, during your pitch, you want to discuss how much money you predict your project needs to complete. You do not have to go into an individual price breakdown where you show the cost of every material used or each individual employee you plan to hire. You still need to know this information in case the pitch recipient has follow-up questions, but if it is not specifically asked, then save it for the business meeting. The broad areas you need to cover in your pitch include:
- Who is the target audience for your idea?
- What benefits are available to whoever you make the pitch to?
- What basic resources do you need to complete your idea?
- What is your estimated time table?
- Who is the competition for your idea?
Customize Your Pitch
The key to creating a good pitch is customizing the pitch to your target audience. If you present your pitch to multiple parties, then you do not want to use the same pitch each time. Also, you may have to go through your manager before you present the idea to the actual project manager if you are pitching an idea at work. In your first pitch to your manager, you want to focus on how unique your idea is so he or she sells the idea to the project manager. With your project manager, focus on how your project requires minimal resources and the projected profits.
If you do not know your audience in advance, then this can be difficult. Instead, come up with multiple types of pitches and choose one based on how interested the recipient seems during the pitch. If the recipient does not seem interested in the numbers part of your pitch, then shift gears and focus more on the creativity. If this does not work, then talk about how your project helps him or her against rival businesses.
Do Not Use Personal References
A good pitch includes market research whenever possible, showing a need for your product or service. If you have offered your product or service previously, then you can include reviews or references as part of your pitch.
In these instances, you must use neutral sources. The recipient of your pitch is not impressed if your only reviews or references come from personal friends or family members. Family and friends are naturally supportive and want to see you succeed. Attempting to use biased information makes your pitch seems too weak to stand on its own.
You want to leave a positive lasting impression with your pitch. Strong pitches rely on visual aids to be memorable, such as a slide presentation or a mockup of the product or service. Standing out is important, but you want to stand out for the right reasons. Your pitch will not be taken seriously if you are too outrageous with your presentation.
After you present your pitch, it is natural to want an answer right away. Following up with the pitch recipient also shows you are serious and not treating your pitch like a side project or hobby. However, you do not want to annoy the pitch recipient with too many requests. Like evaluating a job offer, recipients need time to make a decision.
Wait at least a few days before asking for a follow up. If he or she is still deciding, then give him or her time to mull the pitch over. If you have not heard back after a few weeks, then it is okay to make another follow up.
Avoid making an ultimatum when you follow up on your pitch. Do not imply someone else might accept your pitch instead or insist there is only a small window of opportunity to accept your idea. This often backfires and causes the recipient to dismiss your pitch.
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