Whether you’re pitching an idea to senior leaders or your company to potential investors, you need to deliver a clear, confident message if you hope to be convincing. A smooth pitch that provides the information your audience is looking for can help you gain the approval you seek from them.
The key to a successful pitch is to carefully prepare, but sometimes it can be difficult to see where your own preparation is lacking. That’s why we asked the members of Forbes Coaches Council how to set yourself up for success at your next pitch meeting. See 14 of their best recommendations below.
1. Study Your Audience
I have found that doing my homework to know who my audience is and what they have done makes everything work better for me. By doing this research, I am better able to understand the context of their needs while also finding ways to better connect. – Dan Ryan, ryan partners
2. Have A Clear ‘Headline’
When pitching an idea to senior leaders, investors or a board, make sure you have a clear “headline” for the most significant business impact your idea will achieve. Show them you have done your homework, really understand the data and financials and have played out the scenarios and key decisions. This will give them confidence that an investment in you and your idea is a “sure thing.” – Christine Grimm, Aria Consulting International
3. Care About What Your Audience Cares About
Stay connected with what senior executive leaders and investors care most about. Demonstrating that you care about their concerns generates a strong emotional connection, allowing your experience and expertise to shine through. From here, you can evolve the conversation together, inviting new possibilities for how you might support the development and ongoing growth of leaders and the organization. – Angela Cusack, Igniting Success
4. Project Authority While Making A Personal Connection
When presenting to senior leadership, beyond competence, they instinctively evaluate self-confidence, character, chemistry and charisma. When combined, the quality that they look for is trust in you. Without trust, there is rarely a sale made. Project authority while making a personal connection with the attendees. Spot “the challenger” and win that person over. – Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
5. Get To The Point Within One Minute
Get to the point as quickly you can, within the first 30 to 60 seconds, when pitching to senior leaders or investors. By giving them a hook with excellent executive presence, you will get their full attention and interest. After that, expect lots of questions, disruptions and buzzing conversations. Be ready for an avalanche; just don’t allow yourself to get buried. – Izabela Lundberg, Legacy Leaders Institute
6. Master The Vertical Unfolding
This top-down approach starts with a bold and intriguing opening statement, immediately followed by three clear, supportive ideas. This will offer clarity and demonstrate respect for their time, which will make senior leaders and investors open to persuasion. Your pitch is one of several that senior leaders are hearing in the course of their day. Make it as memorable and impactful as possible. – Paul Geiger, Public Speaking Advantage
7. Make Everything Quantifiable
If you are meeting with senior leadership or investors and want it to go smoothly, make everything quantifiable. This is the main thing they need to see and the main information you have to come equipped with. Once your information is quantified, ensure that your delivery is smooth by talking in specifics and metrics to gain your desired effect. – Jon Dwoskin, The Jon Dwoskin Experience
8. Know Your Audience To Tailor Your Message
The way you pitch to a room full of finance folks will differ from the way you pitch to a group of marketing leaders. Tailor your message specifically to the people in the room by anticipating what information will be needed and what questions may be asked. It’s not about what you want to say; it’s about what your audience will need to know in order to make a decision. – Cheryl Czach, Cheryl Czach Coaching and Consulting, LLC
9. Find Ways To Connect On An Emotional Level
While practicing your presentation is always a good idea, you should also avoid the natural tendency to be overly scripted. While leaders expect compelling arguments supported by relevant data, you also need to find ways to connect with them on an emotional level. Be prepared with relevant stories and examples that highlight your main points and have thought-provoking questions at the ready. – Jonathan H. Westover, Ph.D, Utah Valley University & Human Capital Innovations, LLC
10. Highlight Your Collaborative Efforts
If you’re working on a project, use it as an opportunity to showcase your work by complimenting your team, company and clients and tag others to show your collaboration. This can also be done in LinkedIn articles, white papers and case studies. – Anna-Vija McClain, Piccolo Marketing
11. Find Out Your Audience’s Preferences
I have witnessed well-intentioned executive presentations that fell flat. Had the people presenting interviewed their audience, they would have found out what worked and what has not worked in the past. Knowing the audience’s pet peeves and preferences helps guide you in many ways. That can mean being more creative, toning it down or bringing in the kinds of stories that resonate. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
12. Start With A Question Or Two
Start the pitch with a question or two to engage them in thinking about their needs and wants. You want to create intrigue. Follow up by sharing a brief story of some of the pain points of individuals you have worked with and how you have a system or process to provide a solution. When you ask the right questions and get individuals to see their visions coming into reality, they’ll see value. – Debra Kasowski, Debra Kasowski International
13. Address Weak Points Upfront
Anticipate difficult questions and weak points in your offering and address them upfront, before the potential stakeholders do. Then, let them know that you have plans in place to mitigate those concerns. If you get there first and speak to what they’re already thinking, you can maintain control of the pitch. Think Eminem at the end of 8 Mile. – Dhru Beeharilal, Nayan Leadership, LLC
14. Leverage Your Voice
Come in playful with an upward-directed, inquisitive tonality. Show sincere interest and make the other side feel heard like never before. Once you’ve caught their attention, move toward a downward-directed voice. State your plans as if they are unshakable facts. – Ruben Crawford, Empowertale Ltd
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? Please click here to see my schedule to book a free discovery call or schedule time for coaching.