If you are going to screw up a pitch

If you are going to screw up a pitch, here's how...
If you are going to screw up a pitch, here’s how…

As part of Global Enterprise Week I was invited to talk to students at Oaklands College about the art of pitching.

Rather than be dull and follow the obvious approach, I felt it appropriate to suggest to the audience that if you are going to screw up a pitch, here’s how.

1. Ignore the brief

Don’t waste time reading the boring stuff that says ‘essential reading’ in large print at the top of the page. Believe in your gut and your ability to wing it. No one will notice you’ve missed the fundamental detail or point of the exercise. If you are going to screw up a pitch, just say it was a misunderstanding. Put the unused paper to good use – think fuel, aeroplane or possibly hat…

2. Plan & Prepare in minutes

Get ready without any meaningful thinking, research or rehearsal. Because here’s the thing: The market is everyone, your product is unique because no-one’s ever had such a brilliant idea before; and as such no competitors exist. Bish, bash, bosh – dead simple and bound to impress. Celebrate with a drink. Next…

3. Assume your role in the team

If you are going to screw up a pitch and you know what you’re doing, do no more. Assume everyone can read your mind and are as good as you at spouting or saying nothing. Convince yourself that no one you’re pitching to will have any idea about teamwork or communication. If necessary, lead all talking or hope everyone else will bail you out.

4. Demonstrate emotional unintelligence

Throw as many random ideas at the panel as you can and expect some to stick. If people you’re talking at appear confused by your word-endowed 154 slide PowerPoint presentation, confront them about their lack of knowledge and/or understanding. Where possible shame or patronise. You’re top dog, people need to know that.

5. Forget any focus

If you are going to screw up a pitch there’s no need for any specific message. Think style over substance. Random ideas that leave your mouth a micro-second after being thought about will win through. The panel will fall in love with your sparky personality and the genius of your mind.

6. Be a Negative Influence

Spend hours in front of mirrors practising drab, monotonic drawl and babble until you are brilliant at it. Phase out any intonation, passion and non-verbal signs of enthusiasm. On arrival shun all pleasantries. Be openly disdainful and distrustful to the panel. Don’t listen to any question or instruction. Loud random burping and wind-breaking is always a bonus.

7. Never justify what you are saying 

Market research as well as background information is over-rated. If anyone on the panel asks you the ‘why?’ question during the pitch, just raise your eyes to the ceiling and tut loudly. Then move on and forget the question was ever asked. Remind yourself that classy presentation waffle should never be derailed by seemingly irrelevant queries. If you are going to screw up a pitch, avoid clarity and worthwhile information.

8. Be unrealistic

Promise the world, get the deal and get the hell out. Who cares if what you’re selling does not work at the price offered? It’s only about winning or just getting it over and done with. The panel is full of mugs anyway and business is all about short-term victories.

9. Make a vague offer

Do your best to camouflage the special features of your offer. General ‘guff’ will win through. Feel the joy of being safe in the crowd and following what others do rather than standing out and risk being chosen. You never wanted to do the deal anyway. Close with the killer line: “You can take it or leave it, I couldn’t give a monkeys.” If you are going to screw up a pitch for sure, you now have it in the bag.

10. Panic and Freeze

Symptoms including shakes, dry-mouth syndrome, mind emptiness and/or dizziness should be treated as follows: Step 1. Visualise a big red button that says ‘Panic’. Step 2. Push it. Step 3. Don’t say a word and glow red then purple. Step 4. Perspire bucket-loads. Step 5.  Laugh or cry uncontrollably. Step  6. Think about that button again and repeat. Note, if this joyful experience happens to another member of your team do not intervene or support; much better to pull up a chair, watch and rejoice it’s not you standing there (taking pictures is perhaps pushing it). Watch this great film from Vooza which highlights many of this post’s points.

Alternatively, you can do the exact opposite of all the above and discover the joy of working in a team and persuading others that what you have to offer is really worthwhile and hugely rewarding for all concerned. To learn more from one of the world’s leading experts on this subject, read Jon Steel’s superb ‘Perfect Pitch‘.

Key Learning Points: Highly effective pitches require research, practice and lots of preparation. If all the background work is done well you can discover brilliance and achieve much higher levels of self-confidence & self-esteem. You’ll also earn more.

 

Other reference material you might just value…

Ten tips for pitching an innovative business idea or solution

 

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