Despite the onslaught of new technology, the need to communicate powerfully and pitch successfully is more important than ever. Why then do most people spend so little time in precision planning and preparing their pitch for maximum, positive impact?
We have all heard presenters who use formal, highly technical language, almost as if they are a walking, talking thesis. Compare that to a presenter who uses colourful, vivid phrases and explanations that are thought-provoking yet clearly understood by everyone.
There’s little doubt that words can really pack a punch when you step into the boxing ring of pitching for business. If you want to win the pitch every time, you need to ditch your slide show and focus on your language toolkit. Let me share with you my formula of F-R-E-E speech that will really liven up your language:
F: Fit, flab-free phrases
R: Repeat what’s important
E: End with power
E: Emotionally charge your work
Fit, flab-free phrases
Delivering in long-winded, convoluted sentences is a surefire way of being remembered as colourless and dull. If you develop your main points by way of short, sharp headlines or statements, this will help you sell your ideas more persuasively.
Using analogies or similes that relate to the point you’re making will help convey meaning and evoke striking pictures in the minds of your audience.
I remember the senior financial planner pitching for business to a large organisation by using metaphors. He explained how his planning service moulded itself on a role similar to a navigator in an international car rally. His financial planning helped clients (the rally car driver) to successfully navigate the tight twists and curves in the road ahead.
He spoke of journeying with them for the entire race with constant commitment and loyalty. During his pitch, he used phrases like “navigator precision” and “rewards for high performance in tough economic times”.
He won the pitch by a mile. The feedback linked back to his success with colourful phrases that were more memorable than his competitors who were heavily technical in their language.
Repeat what is important
Your audience’s attention span is brutally short. The panel you are pitching to is waiting for you to press their buttons and deliver information that relates directly to what they want to achieve. In other words, they want to hear the direct benefits of what you are selling — not just the features.
Your audience will recall information that you repeat often, and they are more likely to remember you favourably if you have explained how you can specifically add value to them and then repeat the benefits to them.
But beware, this is not a licence for you to rattle off four major points many times over. Instead, it’s an opportunity to repeat one or two benefits a few times so it leaves no doubt in people’s minds about what they should remember about you.
It’s always a good idea to re-package the key points you are making in simple terms. In other words, dress them up in different ways using vivid language to help drive home your pitch persuasively.
End with power
Many speakers don’t realise that the conclusion often determines the success or failure of a pitch. Just as it’s important to begin strongly, the end must also leave the audience with a confident, lasting impression.
Your ending should hit home in an unforgettable and brief climax, and always include a call to action. This is your opportunity to package the presentation neatly, giving the audience a feeling of having come “full circle”. It’s your last chance to fully persuade, stimulate or inspire.
I am often disappointed when a speaker drops the ball at the conclusion by ending abruptly with a lame statement such as, “Well ladies and gentleman that’s it, I think. Does anyone have any questions?”
Perhaps the speaker was counting on a dynamic conclusion to magically flow from his lips at the precise moment. The reality is, it rarely does. A solid ending requires careful planning in advance.
Emotionally charge your work
So many business people struggle with this final rule of perfect pitching. Many professionals, particularly those in highly technical industries, believe that appealing to an audience’s emotions will make their presentation “too soft” and therefore compromise their credibility.
However, there is no escaping the fact that most listeners will remember a speaker who finds commonality with his audience. They will recall ideas and information that appeal to their emotions.
When you include a human angle or a compelling real-life story to illustrate your point, this will help you press the emotional hot buttons of your audience. Many company leaders agree that when these buttons are pressed, you are one step closer to performing at your peak and winning that all-important pitch.