Find out how to harness the power of persuasion in an unforgiving minute with this Fellowship guest blog. Digital Storyteller Andy Dean FRSA reveals his “7P’s” of presenting the perfect pitch to any audience.
What can a person achieve in sixty seconds - a single minute?
You may find it hard to believe but the gist of most propositions can be delivered in a persuasive and inspiring 60-second pitch. Often known as an ‘elevator pitch’, a one minute presentation should be an illuminating speech that you use to spark interest in whatever you wish to communicate – an idea, a project, a product, your organisation, or yourself if you are job hunting.
The key thing to bear in mind is that your pitch should be succinct, interesting and utterly memorable for your intended audience.
For those who are new to presenting, the prospect of a live pitch to an influential individual or audience can seem quite daunting, let alone trying to squeeze the information into a diminutive ‘unforgiving minute’.
The following steps can help to downsize any complex or detailed message into a great one minute pitch.
1. It may sound obvious but begin by identifying your goal – the objective of the pitch. What do you want your audience to remember or do?
- Ask for more information?
- Invite you for a meeting?
- Recommend you to someone who can help?
- Give money or a commission?
2. Secondly, flesh out the content - what is the key information you wish to impart? e.g.
- What your organisation or idea does.
- How it benefits others: helps people or organisations.
- Why you? Your relevant credentials.
Structure is also very important especially if you can deliver a story (as in beginning-middle-end) you are much more likely to captivate your audience. Start with a fascinating hook (did you know...?) then provide the main details of your offer, and finally a call to action (what do you want individuals to do as a result of hearing your great notion?) and if appropriate, give your contact details.
3. Edit the content adding ‘emotionally loaded’ words that tend to evoke a positive response. You need your audience to care about your proposition.
4. Rehearse with a stopwatch and cut anything that slows down the flow.
5. Rehearse again with a tame audience and listen to their feedback. Your mum will think it’s great anyway, so try to get an objective viewer and ask for constructive criticism.
6. Re-evaluate the structure:
- Hook – have you got their attention?
- What is unique about your proposition?
- Who will benefit?
- Who are you and why can you deliver it (credentials).
- Call to action - What you want your audience to do and why.
- Here’s how to contact me.
Now grit your teeth and throw away your script and prompt cards – despite your irrational fears you must know your content and the presentation needs to come from the heart.
The seven P's of presenting
Practicing - everyone gets nerves even those who deny it. Practice is generally the solution.
Prevaricating - prepare, formulate your thoughts and focus, which will to some extent suppress your unconscious desire to ‘um’ and ‘er’ or drift off into a random anecdote.
Pontificating - try to sound plausible, sincere and credible - obviously you wish to endear your audience.
Prompting - ideally don’t use written prompts - you should know your stuff without reminding. If you do rely on bullet points or worse still a script your presentation may well come across as a bit stiff and lacklustre.
Powerpoint - don’t even go there unless you have amazing, incredibly impressive visuals and even then it’s risky. On a perfect planet Powerpoint ‘slides’ would be totally visual, not a word or bullet point in sight.
Props - these can add interest to your presentation, providing they are relevant and few in number. It goes without saying that you don’t whip out your entire product range - you’re not a 1950’s door-to-door brush salesman.
Position - of course body language is important, we all know we should stand up straight, look the audience in the eye (or choose one in the middle distance if it’s a large crowd), not have hands in pockets or arms folded defensively, fiddle with our hair, pick our noses or other orifices.
Persuasion - alright, this is P number eight but it is probably your real objective and you will need to bring all that innate charm to bear. Obviously try to look like you are enjoying it, be enthusiastic, friendly and upbeat. Think of the process as a chat-up line – what you say and how you say it are both vital for success.
“If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With 60 seconds worth of distance run
Yours will be the winning pitch with everything that’s in it
And – what’s more - you will succeed, my friend.”
(Apologies to ‘If?’ By Rudyard Kipling)