15 tips to perfect the pitch: public speaking hacks that will have you pitching like a pro

Have you ever heard of glassophobia? It’s the fear of public speaking, the most common fear (even more so than death), and 75% of Americans suffer from it. [1] However, likelihood is that public speaking is something all successful entrepreneurs will have to face at some point in their career. In order to help you feel more prepared and give you the confidence you need for future pitches, we’ve put together a list of 15 tips that will have you pitching like a pro in no time.

1. Practise, a lot!

The age old saying, ‘practise makes perfect’ is still around for a reason! Not only does practising help you to perfect your pitch, it will help you feel more in control of what’s going to happen, which in turn, makes you more relaxed.

2. Imagine the perfect pitch

Imagine, in your mind, your pitch going perfectly. Imagine the look on your audience’s faces; think about how your voice sounds, how your body is moving and the way the words are flowing. Picture your face, consider your outfit and think about the environment around you. Continue to do this until it feels like second nature. Then, as and when you’re ready for your pitch you will have the confidence of knowing that it can go well.

3. Breathe

When we’re nervous or anxious we can often find it hard to focus on a regular breathing pattern. Before you pitch take some time to focus on your breathing, find your regular pattern and focus on it. If you find yourself losing breath during the pitch just take a moment to return to that pattern. If you know this can be an issue for you, work in breaks into your pitch to allow you to catch your breath. Likelihood is that the people you’re presenting to won’t notice these strategically placed pauses and it gives them a chance to absorb what it is you’re saying.

4. Don’t read into facial expressions

Your audience may seem uninterested when really that is just their natural facial expression. Don’t feel put off by the look you see on their faces or try to second guess what they’re thinking. Instead, keep eye contact and tell yourself that they’re intensely interested in what it is you’re pitching.

5. Stand tall

The way you stand and the posture you hold can say a lot about you. Maintaining a good posture can work wonders on making you appear confident when in reality you may not be feeling it. Try standing in the ‘Wonder Woman’ pose, feet hip width apart, chin up, chest out and hands on hips, for a few minutes. This can raise your testosterone and increase confidence whilst decreasing your cortisol levels and improving your ability to deal with stress. [2]

6. Speak slowly

When you’re nervous you may want your pitch to be over as quickly as possible, but speaking in a fast paced speed will not help. Instead, take a moment and imagine your usual speaking pace, then slow it down a little. Whilst this may seem like you’re speaking far too slow and may bore your audience, you will actually be speaking at a pace that will allow them to fully understand what it is you’re saying.

7. Take on board feedback

This may seem daunting, but asking for feedback from your audience can help you improve for the future. If you don’t feel that you can ask the people you have pitched to for their feedback, bring a friend or colleague with you who will be able to give you detailed and honest feedback once the pitch is over. You could also record the meeting and play it back to yourself, this allows you to see areas in which you are able to build upon in future.

8. Dress comfortably

When you’re already ill at ease with the thought of pitching, wearing something you’re uncomfortable in can make you feel even more uncomfortable. If you know you’re not good at wearing heals, wear flats. If you know a certain shirt is too tight around your neck, wear a looser one. Wearing clothes you feel comfortable in will be one less thing for you to worry about on the day. Looking good whilst feeling comfortable will help you find the confidence that you need.

9. Take time beforehand

Give yourself time before the pitch to prepare yourself mentally and check things over one more time. Where possible get to the venue in plenty of time to ensure all technology is working and to see the place you’re pitching from. In the moments before your pitch switch off from everything and focus on creating a positive and calm mind-set.

10. Make things personal

We don’t mean spend the whole time talking about yourself, adding in personal highlights to your pitch (that make sense) show the audience that you’re human and helps create a closer connection. This closer connection, in turn, will help you feel more at ease with the people you’re pitching to.

11. Leave your notes at home

Having notes in your hand can often make people feel more relaxed and comfortable; however they can also be a distraction that increases tension. By following precise notes you limit yourself to what you’re able to talk about and can often cause stress when tangents are created. You should ideally have practised enough that you know what you’re talking about (see our first point) without having notes, but if you need something in hand, try using small que cards instead.

12. Create a routine

Whether you do pitches daily or just every once in a while; having a routine can help you feel calmer and more comfortable when they do come around. What this routine consist of is entirely up to you, but having something in place that feels natural can help you feel more comfortable. The more comfortable you feel the more confident your pitch (you’re getting the gist of things now).

13. Bring energy with you

Nobody is going to buy into your pitch if they can tell your nervous, or don’t feel you sold yourself well enough. Channel your nerves into energy and get the audience excited. Having energy can help build upon the points you’re making along with getting your audience excited about the idea you’re pitching.

14. Check your tech

Knowing everything is working before you begin your pitch will make you feel more at ease. Check the technology you’re using as many times as you can to ensure any hiccups are smoothed out before your pitch. However, bear in mind that things can go wrong due to the unreliable nature of some technology, so always have a backup plan, just in case.

15. Watch some TED talks

This Ted Talks playlist is full of videos that can help you prepare for a pitch and qualm any nerves you may have.

http://www.meridianks.com/life-hacks-5-public-speaking-tips-2/

http://jamesclear.com/body-language-how-to-be-confident