How can you make your dream their dream? It’s a great question if you’re a creative person. In many ways, the ability to present or “pitch” your ideas is one of the most important things you can learn in business – or life. Whether you’re trying to produce a movie, publish a book, get a raise, launch a business, find donors, or whatever, your ability to inspire others to your way of thinking is critical. So to make you better at presenting your brilliant ideas, here’s 10 important principles to keep in mind:
1) Someone once said, “A good idea is the worst thing in the world if it’s the only one you’ve got.” Always bring in 3-5 ideas to present. In my experience, they rarely buy into the first idea out of the gate.
2) Do your Homework. Learn everything you can about the person you’re pitching. Check industry magazines, trade journals, the Internet, referrals, etc… Get as much information about him or her before you walk into the room. Never go in blind.
3) Even though it might take some time, if possible, don’t just pitch – develop a personal friendship. When that happens it’s less awkward, and you have more access.
4) Instead of just trying to sell them, start by genuinely asking for their opinions and advice. That takes the pressure off them and you’d be surprised how much it helps.
5) These are busy people, so limit the presentation to 3-5 minutes, and please don’t show up late. Honor the appointment time.
6) A script, treatment, photos, or demonstrations can help, but don’t get cute. The slickest presentation rarely wins. And if you do bring a handout such as a script or treatment, don’t give it out until the end. Otherwise, they’ll be reading it and not listening to you.
7) After the meeting, give them time to think about it. Don’t follow up too soon, or it will drive them crazy. Give them a week or two at least. Call or email them every day and your career is over.
8) Learn to listen. I once successfully pitched a TV special to a producer without saying a word. (That’s another blog post.) Just remember, a successful pitch isn’t just about you dominating the conversation.
9) There will often be an unexpected guest. Accept it and don’t let it throw you. It might be his best friend, business associate, or golf buddy. Engage them just like the boss, and you’ll find they’re often the key to success.
10) Before you walk in the door, know what “success” means to them. Sometimes movie studios aren’t as interested in making a profit as much as winning an Academy Award. A business executive might be more interested in fame than money. Understand their motivations and plan your presentation around that.
Above all – know that successful presenting isn’t an act. The people you’re pitching to are smart and experienced and can smell a “con” a mile away. Be real. It will make a big difference.