The ever popular Dragons' Den has returned to our TV screens once again and watching a recent episode made me think just how daunting the process of pitching to a potential new client or customer can be.
Pitching a business idea to a bank or a financial backer is a frightening enough process at the best of times but having to do it in front of a panel of experienced entrepreneurs and several cameras must be a truly terrifying prospect.
Many people dislike speaking in public and the only way you can master the art is through plenty of practice. Whether we like it or not, pitching is an essential skill and if you want to be a success in business you will have to learn not just how to sell your ideas but also yourself.
1. Make a good first impression
We have all seen Peter Jones instantly turned off if he thinks someone is poorly dressed. It may seem shallow but first impressions really do count for everything, it is a fact that people will make their mind up about an individual within minutes or even seconds of meeting them so it is vital to make sure that you hit the ground running. It goes without saying that you should dress appropriately for the occasion, if you are talking to a big client and looking to win a major piece of work then don't turn up looking scruffy and down at heel. If you look the part then it will make you feel better about yourself and that will come across during the presentation.
2. Be confident
Sadly, people watch Dragons' Den because it can be car crash TV. There's nothing worse than watching the confidence drain away from someone who knows that they are failing miserably to win over their audience. The best way to ensure that you avoid that kind of horrible scenario is through plenty of practice. Practice your pitch until it is as perfect as it can be, the better you know the material, the smoother the delivery will be and the more confident you will be.
3. Compose yourself
On Dragons' Den it sometimes feels like they are wheeling out one victim after another to be taken apart by the panel. Thankfully in the real world of business this isn't always the case. If you do get five minutes, use the time wisely to compose yourself and clear your head so you can concentrate on your delivery and what you are planning to say. Take the time to say hello to the people you will be presenting to and introduce yourself. One of the key skills of pitching is the ability to build a rapport.
4. Be passionate
One of the most important things to remember is the importance of injecting some passion and character into your delivery. You are not going to convince anyone about your product or service if you do not show any enthusiasm or individuality. Do not go over the top but it is vital to inject some personality and passion into your presentation.
5. Avoid death by PowerPoint
Any executive who spends a large part of their life in meetings or watching presentations will tell you that they hate death by PowerPoint. There is nothing worse than listening to someone drone on aided by an endless collection of slides. If you are going to use a presentation then make sure it is short, punchy and makes the point without being boring. Slides should be there to support your information and not act as a prompt.
It's unlikely that you will be faced with a pitching situation as pressured as the TV Den environment. However we can all learn a lot about how to present a perfect pitch by learning these lessons from the Den.