When embarking on a career in management, 99% of the time you have to start from the bottom. This means that you will spend a lot of times reporting and presenting to senior management, stakeholders and clients. Communication skills – covered on our Management Training course – are important to successful pitching. If your pitch or important meeting is looming fast and you don’t have time to attend a course, here are 10 top tips for the perfect pitch from our guest blogger…
Presenting an idea at a meeting can be a daunting prospect. Weeks or months of preparation, all riding on a few minutes’ performance, is enough to intimidate the most seasoned business person. So how can you go into the meeting with confidence? We’ve compiled a list of 10 tips to help you deliver the perfect pitch and meeting!
Preparation, preparation, preparation…
by tim caynes
Preparation is the key, making sure you know your facts and figures in particular. Watching Dragons’ Den contestants crumble when asked for their forecast margins is painful, and you don’t want that to happen to you. Rehearse until you have memorised every detail, then relax and get excited about sharing your wonderful idea.
Practise the elevator pitch…
Make the opening of your presentation concise and compelling. Practise an elevator pitch, and use it in the first few minutes. You need to capture people’s imaginations early on if you are to convince them to believe in your idea as much as you do.
Understand your audience
Pitch the presentation correctly. Who is your audience? You will aim it differently if it is for the Board of Directors, than if it is for Union Reps. Ask yourself what is in it for them, and how they would benefit from implementing your idea, then use your presentation to tell them. Predict any concerns they might have, and answer them early on. Tackling questions before they have even been asked will impress your listeners, as they will know you have thought through every detail.
In the midst of the detail, however, don’t forget to share your enthusiasm. Once you have reassured your colleagues that your idea won’t lose them money, it is your conviction, passion, and belief in the potential of your proposal that will seduce them into supporting it.
… but be realistic
Do balance your optimism with realism. Those listening to you will feel that you are insulting their intelligence if your predictions are totally off the scale, which will not endear you, or your idea, to them. Some entrepreneurs recommend presenting a best case, a medium case, and a worst case scenario, and as long as the worst case scenario is still a decent prospect, the presentation will be well received.
Tell the story
Creating and presenting a story based on your idea helps to solidify the concept in the minds of those listening. This narrative ensures that people can visualise the idea in action. Once this visualisation has occurred, it is less of a leap for them to approve it.
Watch what you wear
Dress smartly and professionally on the day. While this is only a small matter compared to the content of your presentation, if you look like you have not made an effort, there is little motivation for others to take you seriously. It is also wise to prepare smart, professional handouts. Your colleagues will have something they can look at later which will jog their memory about your idea. Like your appearance, it is a detail which can make a big difference.
Make the visuals clear…
The technology of presentations is dominated by Powerpoint, although more portable devices like iPads are increasing in popularity. Whichever you use, make the visuals clear and do not crowd too many words or charts per slide. Graphics can be helpful to communicate central themes, and text should be limited to key words or phrases, not the entire script of what you are saying.
Always check presentations in like for like environments…
If your Powerpoint presentation will be played on a computer that is not your own, take particular care. Blogger Pat Flynn was part way through a keynote speech when he saw that the text on his slides was askew. The font he had used did not work on the computer the presentation was running on, but fortunately his thorough rehearsing meant that the loss of his slides did not throw him.
End on with specifics
End your presentation with specifics, as people will be much more likely to act if there are explicit recommendations. An unambiguous roadmap describing what happens next will be acted upon, whereas a tentative, abstract or imprecise path can too easily be ignored.
The vast majority of the work of presenting your idea is done in advance of the meeting itself. Prepare thoroughly, practise often, then enjoy the opportunity to share the concept with people who have the power to help make it happen.
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