Once upon a time, long before the days of the Internet, every pitch was made face to face with one or more people in the room. Those days seem to be long gone as technology has advanced to the point where almost everything we do is handled by computer and even our meetings are often videoconferences. However, there will be times when we will be tasked with making a presentation and giving a pitch before a live audience seated before you in the very same room.
“Sadly,” Justin Cobb laments, “many of us have no experience in this arena. We excel at writing marketing copy to be pitched online but when faced with a group of individuals we tend to be at a loss as to how to grab and hold their attention.” This is often the case when seeking investors for those much-needed funds to start or expand a business. Each of those potential investors has a unique personality and it is up to you to size them up quickly so that they will not only hear but listen to the information you are presenting.
“It has been my experience that the key to an effective pitch isn’t what you have always been taught,” Justin explains. “It’s really not about you at all! The key to pitching a group of people is to be aware of where each of them is at the moment. Are they bored or distracted? Are they in a hurry to get this over with? Before launching into your pitch, take a few moments to quickly size them up.”
What Justin is referring to is to first get a feel for how each is seated. Do they appear laid back and bored? Is someone tapping their finger on the table as though anxious to get on with it? Are you able to make eye contact with them? The first secret to a successful pitch is being able to read the body language of the people you will be pitching.
Secondly, try to gauge how they are breathing. If they are relaxed and breathing at a normal rate, then they are most likely ready to listen to what you have to say. If they are breathing rapidly then you know they are about ready to bound out of the chair and get in motion. As silly as it may sound, learning to understand how your audience is breathing is a key to how you approach your pitch.
“Sometimes it means grabbing their attention with something they least expected from a speaker about to make a pitch.” In Justin’s long and fruitful experience with making pitches, the secret to success is being able to read the room so that you can gear your pitch toward their ability to hear what you are saying. He concludes by explaining that your pitch isn’t all about you, it’s about their receptivity that matters. “Once you learn to gauge that, every pitch you make will be met with success.”