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Pitching. It may be, or may not be your favorite thing to do. But everyone, expert or dummy, can use the tips from David Beckett. The Pitch Guru of Amsterdam shares his insights on how to bring your preparation, presentation and confidence to perfection. In this series we take you by the hand and discuss the different themes around pitching. First up: the preparation of your pitch. What is the best way to do that? How can you to make the best out of your story?
Doing it wrong
If you prepare your pitch and you immediately start to work on your slides, you are not alone. A lot of people think they can put all the information that floats around in their heads on the slides immediately to use it later in their pitching moment. According to David that is literally impossible. You have to get your ideas out of your head. But this is not the only thing that can go wrong in your preparation. You also easily get stuck in your own shoes. This means that you prepare all the information about the work you have done, instead of fine-tuning the information for the audience.
Think first, act later
For a preparation that would bring your pitch to the next level, David says “you have to accept that your brain is not used to organizing content”. The way with which you can organize the content of your pitch for yourself is with post-its. But, before you use them, ask yourself the following questions: “Who is the audience?” and “What is your objective?” Make it as specific as you can. This would help you to be clear to your audience and encourage them to take action.
Asking yourself the right questions
So. You sit there and you want to get your story ‘out of your head’ and be as specific as you can. How are you going to do this? David explains: “I recommend to think firstly about the following questions: ‘Who am I speaking to? What type of people are in the audience? What do I want to get out of this?’” According to David your pitch is going to turn out different if you want someone in the audience to introduce you to a customer. Or if you want a signed check. Or a one hour follow up meeting. David admits he also still has to force himself to put himself in the shoes of his audience, and not his own. But it is of key importance to the success of your pitch: “The core of your pitch might be the same for 70% but the other 30% is really centered around who you are speaking to”.
The post-it notes can help you further to make up a clear story line and a perfect pitch. With different notes, you split up your information. Create clusters of ideas and make chapter headings so that you come up with a clear and confident story line. “That also makes it easier to recap your information anytime, at for example a network event”. Furthermore the post-its are his second love. “Once I had to present 45 minutes with new information, a new story from top to bottom. I worked like crazy on post-it notes to get some chapters. I spent hours and hours on the post-its, but eventually the slides almost fell into place. It was so much easier to do it”.
A successful story
When asking David for an example of someone who got his presentation quite right, thanks to the right preparation, he came up with the pitch from Maurice Kroon, founder of Yippie. At the demo day of Startup Bootcamp in April this year, Kroon knew exactly who to address first, namely a guy named John from the company Sonos. In doing so Maurice showed that he knew who his audience was, made it personal and delivered a great pitch!