What is a Pitch?
When you think of the word “Pitch" what comes to mind? I ask this of groups when I teach pitching. I get words like "short," "to the point," "introduction," "raising money." I also get "salesy," "sleazy," and "pushy." A colleague recently told me that he completely avoids the word "pitch" because it "...sounds like it's shrink-wrapped." He called it an "unassessed presentation."
I think these negative takes on the word “Pitch" come from shows like Shark Tank. The term "Pitch" recalls the much-maligned Used Car Salesman of old. A pitch is simply a form of communication. It is indeed a highly persuasive form of communication that is synonymous with selling. But is that a bad thing?
You might think that pitching is something that only used car-salesmen and entrepreneurs do, but you would be wrong. In truth, we all pitch all the time. Parents pitch healthy food to their kids. Kids pitch the benefits of going out with their friends to their parents. In the business world, business owners pitch products and services to prospective clients, managers in corporations pitch ideas and projects to upper management, team leaders pitch their team members on adopting a new process. Nonprofit leaders pitch their worthy cause to would-be investors or volunteers. And yes, entrepreneurs pitch their innovations to prospective clients, business partners, and investors.
Several things make pitching a challenge. The first is the time limit. A pitch can last anywhere from 30 seconds to 12 minutes, but there is always a time limit. Being time-limited means that every word counts. As I like to say, “In a Pitch, you have no time for blah, blah, blah." You must carefully choose the words you use.
The time limit also means that you can’t tell your audience everything about your product, service, or project in your pitch. A common mistake people make when constructing a pitch is including too much information. This limits the effectiveness of your message and reduces what your audience will remember and retain.
The second thing that makes pitching challenging is that you have a dual goal. When you pitch something (and you can pretty much pitch anything), you are not only informing your audience about what it is you are selling, you are also trying to persuade them to take action, to buy a product or service, to buy-into an idea or project, or to give you resources, the most obvious being money. To accomplish this challenging goal, you must strike a balance between informing and persuading, leaning toward the persuading side of the scale (https://tinyurl.com/y2z58vx8).
In future blog posts, I'll share more about different types of pitches and how to construct them. Stay tuned!
If you need to create a clear, impactful, memorable Pitch, sign up for the 3rd Edition of my 5-Day Perfect Pitch Challenge, which starts on November 12th and runs through November 18th. Go to this link https://tinyurl.com/y2el3jb2 for more information and to register.