The Pitch – Masterclass
Meeting new people is like channel hopping. Sometimes a TV show draws you in and you’ll end up watching it for hours, but other times, you’ll decide pretty much instantly that you’re not interested and you’ll simply skip channels until you find something more appealing.
“You have seven seconds to make an impact”
Kym Andrew is a BBC-trained communications specialist who held a masterclass for Creative Careers on pitching skills. “When you’re making a pitch, you have two extra seconds. It takes nine seconds for your investor, your employer or whoever it is you’re trying to impress to make a decision as to whether or not they’re going to listen to you.”
Having trained TV presenters, celebrities, CEOs and even former US President Barack Obama, Kym is an expert when it comes to making a good impression. But her number one tip is surprisingly simple.
“Be yourself; when you’re relaxed and you’re laughing and you’re having fun – the way you speak to your friends – that is how you engage an investor.”
Kym broke down her top tips for delivering a presentation into the handy acronym ‘YES SPEAKER’, as follows.
Y – Yourself
“The reason you must be yourself when you are delivering information is because people will forgive you when you make a mistake,” Kym said. “It’s that simple. We love the underdog.”
E – Eye contact
“When you make eye contact, you make a contract. ‘You’re listening to me and I’m talking to you.’ Immediately, you’re creating a relationship. You must make eye contact,” Kym insisted.
S – Smile
“When you smile, people naturally smile back. It’s a very natural thing; it relaxes other people and it relaxes you. When you get up to pitch, you’ll feel scared, but when you smile and someone smiles back, you’ll feel a bit more relaxed. You must smile,” Kym advised.
S – Structure
“Structure really is one of the most important things you need to learn about pitching,” Kate noted. “Your pitch must include your introduction, your body and your conclusion. It must be easy to follow. You need to make it easy for people to give you what you want.”
P – Pacing
“Pacing your pitch gives you a bit of time to relax. The best orators in the world have great pacing – they make you feel like you’re their mate and they make it seem effortless,” Kym said.
“It’s about taking your time and relaxing. There is always going to be a time in a pitch when something is going to throw you, but having good pacing will help you handle that moment. Investors want to see who you are in that moment; they want to know who they’ll be dealing with when shit hits the fan,” Kym added.
E – Enthusiasm
“You must show enthusiasm, because if you don’t care, why should I?” Kym said.
A – Animate
“You’ve got to animate yourself,” Kym insisted. “If you are nervous, fold your hands in front of you, but as you relax, use body language to express yourself.”
K – Keep it simple
“Keep is simple,” Kym advised. “Don’t pitch like Einstein. No one cares. When faced with investors, you need to think about what you want and what they want and how you can marry the two together.”
“People over-complicate their pitch because they want to get key words in. It doesn’t work,” Kym commented. “All your investors want is a very clear summary of what your idea is, how much it’s going to cost, what the turnaround time is and why they should be involved.”
E – Elevate your voice
“Elevate your voice because when you’re pitching and you’re nervous, you speak quieter,” Kym said. “Always speak at the level as though you’re in a pub. A pub has background noise so you’re not actually shouting, you’re talking to someone not at someone.”
R – Remember your objective
“You must remember your objective. It’s easy to get distracted when you’re pitching. I’ve sat on hundreds of pitching panels and 80 per cent of people forget to ask for what they want,” Kym commented. “People get asked questions and they lose track. What you want from the investor should be at the forefront of your mind.”
Kym also had the following useful tips:
Get someone else’s feedback
Everyone who attended the masterclass had the opportunity to pitch, but pitches were delivered with a twist. Rather than pitching about their own work, attendees were paired up and tasked with quizzing one another on their career backgrounds and goals, before pitching on each other’s behalf. Many were surprised by the details their partners chose to highlight or by how interesting their partner made their work sound.
Kym advised that it is important to “always get someone else to look over your pitch.” She added: “When it comes to you own work, it can all become a blur. Sometimes you need a fresh set of eyes to make sense of things and remind yourself what is interesting to others about what you do.”
Get your structure right
Kym elaborated on the importance of your pitch’s structure, stating that the introduction should be 15% of what you say, the conclusion should also be 15%, with the body as the main part. Nailing your introduction is vital, Kym said, as “that’s what pulls investors in. If you don’t pull them in, they don’t care about any of this so there’s no point.”
While first impressions are important, so are closing statements. “People only remember your last nine seconds,” Kym insisted. “People remember the conclusion. What do you want them to remember? That you need money? That you’ve got integrity? That you need sponsorship or contacts? Finish your pitch by emphasizing what you want.”
Your pitch must have ethos, logos and pathos
Taking an Aristotelian approach to your pitch is essential to the art of persuasion, Kym insisted. “If your pitch does not have ethos, logos or pathos, you will fail.”
Ethos is the ethical reason people should invest in you. For example, if you are an expert in your field, then you are the ethical choice. Logos is the logical reason people should invest; you may be the logical choice of investee if you possess the credentials, equipment and resources to make a project happen.
But while it is important that you cover ethos and logos in your speech, pathos is often the element that seals the deal. “Pathos is the emotional reason why people should invest in you,” Kym said. “You need to touch people’s hearts. That’s how you get them.”
With these tips at your fingertips, you can make sure that next time an investor is channel hopping, the don’t skip past you!
Follow Kym on Twitter at @KymBBCJourno
Image © Matthew Kaltenborn
Report by Zoe Efstathiou