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’, says Kym Andrew, a BBC-trained communications specialist. ‘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 breaks down her top tips for delivering a presentation into the handy acronym ‘YES SPEAKER’:
Y – Yourself
The reason you must be yourself when you are delivering information is because people will forgive you when you make a mistake. 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.
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.
S - Structure
Structure really is one of the most important things you need to learn about pitching. 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. 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 sh*t hits the fan.
E - Enthusiasm
You must show enthusiasm, because if you don’t care, why should I?
A - Animate
You’ve got to animate yourself. 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
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. Your investors want 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
When you’re pitching and you’re nervous, you speak quieter. 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% of people forget to ask for what they want. 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
It is important to always get someone else to look over your pitch. 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.
One practical tip Kym recommends is to talk to a friend about your project, career background and goals – and then get them to pitch your work on your behalf. You’ll be surprised by the details they chose to highlight and how interesting your partner can make your work sound that would might not have considered.
Get your structure right
Kym stresses the importance of your pitch’s structure - 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 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. 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. 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. 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, they don’t skip past you.
Words by Zoe Efstathiou