The Art Of The Pitch

The Art Of The Pitch

Like 99% of the world population, I don’t like standing in front of a crowd. I especially dislike that moment when the whole crowd is looking at me because I’m the one who’s presenting. Not a single professor at Newhouse failed to stress the importance of being comfortable while presenting. One has to be even good at it. Lucky me.

According to Shakespeare, a coward dies a thousand deaths. Not enjoying presenting does not make you automatically a coward. Be that as it may, I have died a thousand times this last semester during presentations. But every time I died a bit better; as with almost everything in life, the more I presented, the better I got at it. Practice helped a lot. Studying the art of presentation probably even more so. The one thing I hate more than standing in front of a crowd of people is making a fool of myself in front of a crowd of people. In order to avoid this, I read a few handy articles on how to present. Let me share some of the tips.

First, let’s demystify one thing about presenting: it is NOT a God-given talent from above that some people out there are blessed with and the rest of us aren’t. Good presenters don’t just “wing it”. A good presentation is 3 parts perspiration and 1 part inspiration. My better presentations were the ones I practiced time and again. The first time just for myself, the second time in front of someone else. Often than not my roommate was the lucky victim.

When I practiced my presentation, I got a better idea which parts needed some fine tuning. More important, practicing helped me with presenting in a natural way. When I had to do the presentation for real, the words came naturally to me because I’d already said them once or twice.

Whether you’re pitching a revitalizing campaign for a Swedish car brand, a documentary about refugees in upstate New York or an idea about a fashion shoot, there is one truth: your audience needs to understand why your idea is a winner. They need to wholeheartedly agree that your plan deserves funding and they need to feel that it would be insane not to pick you. The audience is the most important part of a presentation. You are mainly the messenger. Now we have established that, here’s a few tricks on how to get the audience on your side during the presentation:

 

  • Acknowledge them. Look them in the eye when you talk. Nothing worse than a presenter who finds the floor or his cheat sheet more interesting than the audience.
  • No matter how nervous you are, don’t fidget. The audience will start concentrating on you playing with your hair, instead of your perfect plan.
  • Take. Your. Time. When. Talking. I know you will have the urge to talk as fast as you can, but resist that urge. the presenter is a servant, or vehicle, of the pitch for the audience. Give the audience enough time so that they can take it in.

 

Presenting will never be my favorite thing to do. Looking like a fool even less so. On the other hand, the more we present, the better we present and the better we present, the less scary it will be.

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Pim Leeuwenkamp

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