Each day of our life, we are faced with situations where we need to prove to someone else why we are qualified for it. Each day has many such tests to be passed, right from small things like overtaking a vehicle, choosing a dinner menu to winning a contract or getting an investor to back your idea! Is there a format or a best practice? Sure, there is!
Firstly, it’s preparing for it. I must be sure that I qualify to win this and I need it. This is the first step where I have a sense of purpose and am self-confident. Then the next step is to get into the other person’s shoes and think ‘why me’. What could convince the other person that my thoughts and actions are beneficial for him or her?
I have seen many people going wrong in this step. We go on describing what we can and who we are. More often than not, our pitch is standardised, a copy-paste version of the previous pitches and appears as pure as the technical specifications of a phone or the composition of a medicine.
We forget that all these information could be an assault on the other person and turn him off! It doesn’t matter to him who I am, what I think and what I am capable of. What matters is the needs and thoughts of the other person.
It is easier said than done. It requires a lot of practice and preparation to give priority to the other person. Hence, it’s critical that we discover the needs and thoughts of the listener. We can do this by knowing more about the listener – his background, his context and his priorities. Our speech and our pitch note needs to be prepared keeping all this research in mind. The battle is half-won if we prepare this well. Our idea needs to be packaged in a way that appeals and interests our target audience.
Secondly, striking a rapport with the target audience makes life easy. Several times, a buyer obliges the seller in buying the product and rejects competing offers. Again it is not easy but can be done well by practice. One has to make a genuine attempt in knowing the other person and finding some common ground such as areas of interest or a reference or education or the place one lives at or the companies one worked in. This builds trust and comfort for further interactions.
Last but not the least, it’s the tool that one uses to make the pitch. Most of the times, it’s a pdf or a ppt that people use to support the pitch. In the anxiety of packing all the information into the slide, people make it crowded and suffocating. What becomes further boring and impact-destroying is when they read the slides point by point. Experts recommend that pre-read can be circulated well in advance while the presentation can be merely a few pictures to describe the story. The pictures could be images, charts, a few numbers and fewer bullet points. For special occasions where the stakes are high, it is advisable to gather specific visuals, audios and videos to build a multi-media presentation that can support the story-telling. And, it’s important to note that most speakers cannot hold an audience beyond 10 minutes.
Hence, ‘why you’ should be a story that lasts less than 10 minutes and addresses the thoughts in the mind of your target audience. The story needs to be told after a level of rapport is built with the listeners. It’s an art that could take a lifetime to master!