How to Maintain Your Composure and Pitch Under Pressure
Giving an elevator pitch can be a terrifying experience. Whether you’re pitching in a competition in front of hundreds of people, pitching to wealthy and successful investors, or trying to land that much needed new client or job, it can seem like your entire future is dependent on those few seconds you have to pitch. The words that come out of your mouth can make or break the deal. And what if stage fright sets in and you forget everything? It could be your worst nightmare coming to life. Yikes! Who would ever want to pitch?
Well, pitching doesn’t have to be scary. It can actually be fun! If you’re enjoying yourself while you’re pitching, that energy is going to translate to your audience and they’re going to enjoy it more. And a happy and engaged audience is what we want!
So how can you get to that point where you are excited to pitch and are not nervously psyching yourself out? Here are 3 tips to help you maintain your composure and pull off a successful pitch in a high pressure situation.
1) Practice Makes Perfect
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect, and it’s true. The more practice you have saying your pitch, the more comfortable you will feel with it, and the more comfortable you are, the more conversational and natural it will sound. With enough practice, anything can become second nature and the goal is to be able to say your pitch so easily that you don’t even have to think about it. If you’ve practiced your pitch enough, even when the nerves set it, you will be mentally prepared and your pitch will come to you. Be sure to practice the different key elements of your pitch individually, so you are confident with every section and can pick it up no matter where you leave off. This will also help you avoid sounding too overly rehearsed, which can come across as insincere to the audience.
2) Say It And Forget It
Have you ever heard someone give a presentation, realized they missed a point, and then try to go back and touch upon it or add in some extra words? Up until that point, you probably didn’t know that they messed up or forgot anything. But as soon as they tried to add it in or repeat themselves, it became obvious. This is what you DON’T want to do. When you are giving your pitch, if you pass a section and miss a point, move on. To have a cohesive, smooth pitch, the best thing you can do is to continue the pitch and save any part you missed for later, whether as a follow up or as an answer to a question. Trying to add pieces back into your pitch can become confusing to the audience and distracts them into concentrating on what part you messed up. Remember, YOU know YOUR pitch. THEY don’t! That’s the whole reason you are telling them! So if you forget something, don’t try to overanalyze it and throw yourself off track because of this mishap; simply move forward. Chances are they won’t even know that anything was off.
3) You Are The Expert
One thing that tends to make most people nervous is thinking about what others will think. Whatever you are pitching – your product, service, company, or even yourself – remember that YOU are the expert! Others will be looking to you for the answers, so don’t second guess yourself. Treat your pitch as simply a conversation in which you are telling someone else about something that you know more about. Getting lost in the idea that someone else is judging you on your pitch can be nerve-racking and may cause you to lose sight of the end goal. Have confidence in yourself and in your pitch, and remember that when it comes to your pitch, you are the expert!
Remember that you are probably your own worst critic. However bad you think your pitch went, chances are it went much better than that. To help you get over some of the mental torture that you’ll inevitably place on yourself, remember to use these pitch tips to help you avoid some of the nervous pitfalls and remain cool, calm, and collected.