I recently attended a training course to improve my pitching skills as public speaking utterly terrifies me and results in me becoming a wobbly mess! However, since that course, it doesn’t seem so scary anymore. In fact, I actually enjoyed the first pitch I did afterwards and could really feel a difference. Some key things which have helped me hugely to develop my pitching abilities are:
It has been said that 55% of communication occurs through body language so it is important to ensure that your body is saying all the right things!
Feet – keeping your feet firmly on the ground and avoiding crossing your legs or moving around too much gives the appearance of strength and conviction.
Hands – it is human nature to cross your arms or obstruct your body in uncomfortable situations (which presenting is for some!) but making sure your hands are held away from your body and animated will help you to come across as engaging. However, don’t keep them attached to the side of your body; hold them open at waist height.
If you must move, move with a purpose – if engaging with a member of the audience, move towards them, but don’t just move around aimlessly as that can make it uneasy for the viewer and also create the sense that you are nervous.
Don’t ‘we’ on your audience
Particularly when pitching, it’s in our instinct to talk about what WE do. However, what I have learnt is that they don’t just want you to talk about you! Rather they want to hear about what you can do for THEM. Try and position it in terms of what they need that you can offer; what problem are you offering a solution to?
Preparation is everything for me; if I know my stuff, the rest comes easily. I practice over and over in my head, in the shower, in front of a mirror, anywhere! It’s when I don’t feel prepared that the nerves take over and the above can go out of the window.
Remember, you are there because they are interested to hear what you have to say, so make the most of the opportunity!