Paul Boross' new book, The Pitching Bible has recently been released, and he has kindly given us a taster of his Seven Secrets of a Successful Business Pitch.
Secret 1: It's All About Them
Apparently, a fear of public speaking is one of the most common problems in the world of business. According to one survey, people fear it more than death.
There are many, many techniques that you can learn to overcome any fear of presenting, but don't need any of them. You just need to master the first secret.
Think about the worst presentation you have ever seen, did you find that the presenter just read from the slides, didn't interact with the audience and droned on even though no-one was listening? Did the presenter appear 'self conscious'?
All of these problems arise from the same source, and the first and most fundamental mistake that people make when pitching is that they focus on themselves instead of on the audience.
Secret 2: By The Time You Start, It's Already Too Late
When does the pitch start?
Most people say that the pitch starts when you show the first slide, when you stand up to speak, or even when the audience walks into the room.
These are all wrong. The pitch starts the moment the audience buys the ticket; the moment that the audience first commit to listening to your pitch. That is the point at which their expectations start to form, and that is the point from which you must be able to influence them.
Secret 3: Steady, Ready, Pitch!
The audience has to be ready to listen before you start speaking. Get their attention and get into rapport with them, but avoid ice breakers, because they actually distract from the topic of your pitch and break rapport. Pausing before you begin is a sign of control, so take all the time you need. After all, it's your pitch!
Secret 4: Dream The Dream
Your pitch, your idea, was created in a dream world. In order for that dream to become a reality, you need to draw the audience into that dream.
Drawing the audience into your dream with rich, vivid, emotional, sensory language allows you to convey far more than you ever could describe in facts, figures and 'benefits'. Bring your pitch to life and let your words carry the sights, sounds, feelings, tastes and smells of success.
Secret 5: Mind Your Language
While 93% of your message may be conveyed non-verbally, there is no doubt that your language conveys the raw information that your audience needs to make a decision.
For example, traditional sales training advocated selling benefits rather than features. A nice idea in principle, but let down by poor execution.
The traditional "feature means benefit" is the wrong way round. By the time you're half way through describing the feature, the audience is already thinking about the benefit. Otherwise they have no interest in it whatsoever. When you finally get round to the benefit, it will be different to what they had in mind. Even the most subtle difference will break rapport. Do that enough times and you've lost the connection altogether.
Try "benefit because feature" instead, and you'll win more pitches because The Pitching Bible gives you everything you need.
Secret 6: Say It Again, Sam
No doubt you have heard the old presenter's adage, "Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, then tell them again". Get your message across in as many different ways that you can, and realise all of the different communication channels that you're not using; the way you dress, the way you walk into the room, what you say in the invitation email all communicate your intention, and when all of those factors are aligned, you multiply the power of your message.
Secret 7: The End... Or Is It?
Every rock star understands the importance of an encore. It's the thing that most concert-goers rave about. Some performers make the audience wait for up to an hour before being reluctantly coaxed back onto the stage for one more song.. or two.. or ten.
I wouldn't expect your audience to be shouting "More!" at the end of your pitch, but they will certainly be feeling it.
What's the encore to your pitch? Do you send a DVD with the video highlights? A 'Best Of' compilation CD? A thank you card? As an absolute minimum, you must send a follow up letter.
The Pitching Bible by Paul Boross is available from all good bookshops. Published by CGW Publishing, ISBN 978-0-9565358-2-5, the book is priced at ?14.99.
CGW Publishing is an independent publisher specialising in business and non-fiction books for authors who want to build a service business around their intellectual property. We work with a wide range of expert business authors, and we work with selected creative authors too.