Working as a freelance presentation and pitch consultant, I spend a fair amount of my time securing new business and building client relationships. I really enjoy the buzz that comes with giving a presentation, and especially helping others get it too, but it wasn’t always this way. Here are my insider tips to help settle your nerves and set you up for success.
Pitch Only What You Believe In
I’m going to assume that you have a genuine passion for your business idea, product, or service and you’re convinced that it’s the best out there. That’s half of the battle of doing an excellent business pitch won. Belief and enthusiasm will power everything you say, write, and do – for if you don’t demonstrate and authentically believe, then your audience won’t either. Show up, believe and impress your potential clients.
Differentiate yourself. Know what your competition is up to and get ahead of the curve. Look at the trends and developments in your industry, and publish your ideas of the future. Speak up, be vocal and active – go to events, subscribe to (and read) industry publications, and use social media, to name a few examples.
Be Real & Ready
Complete case studies at the end of every completed project, covering the what, when, where, why, and how you delivered for your client. Ask your satisfied clients for references too. If you can, get video references – they’re great social proof. Get ready: start doing case studies now. Don’t struggle to pull together relevant examples of your work in a last-minute panic. You don’t need the extra stress and pressure when you’re facing a pitch.
What next? Research – do the research – learn what makes your potential client tick, and which of their problems you are going to help solve. How are they performing in the market? What were their biggest successes? What are their biggest challenges? What are they like as people? What is the organization they dream of building? People buy from people they trust and like, who show they have done the work before the pitch.
Now The Pitch
It’s “All” about them: the sales meeting is about your client, and the solution you’re providing to their problem. Ask yourself whether you’ve done what the RFP asked for, and whether you’ve provided a clear and interesting set of solutions to help your potential client. To win the bid, those pieces are essential.
Rehearse & Results
It is important to rehearse, it will impact your results – looking and sounding confident increases your chances of success. Set aside plenty of time to rehearse properly. Practice in front of other people, on your own, in front of a mirror, and with a timer. Practicing on video can be very powerful.
Set aside some time to rehearse your ‘questions and answers’. Have your team or friends ask some very difficult questions that the potential client might ask. Remember, questions mean that the client has an interest, or they want clarification. More work is won in the Q & A than in the pitch!
Ensure the technical setup of the room is prepared for you, or request to get there early to set it up yourself. Test the device you’re presenting from in advance, and see if it connects with the screen in the room, and if the audio will reach everyone in the room. Learn to adjust the resolution on your device in case the projector can’t handle yours. Have a backup plan, such as a second device or handouts (or both), in case of technical difficulties.
Take care of yourself. Make sure you’ve got a bottle of water, gum or breath freshener, and some tissues handy in case you get dry-mouthed or runny-nosed when you’re nervous – like me.
At The End
Remember to ask for what you want from the group or private audience. If you want them to buy or invest, ask for it, and offer to answer any questions that they may have. Prepare a one-page executive summary to give out at the end of your presentation, including contact information, and offer to answer any questions they may have later. Make it easy for them to like you, and to follow up after your pitch.