There’s a lot of advice out there regarding the content of pitches. You can find thousands of examples and a considerable amount of different structures and guiding principles whenever you find yourself stuck in the first slide of your deck or the first line of the script. There’s also an increasing amount of content written regarding how to improve the delivery of your content, covering everything from public speaking techniques to basic design courses for clearer and better-looking decks. And of course – there’s a gigantic amount of people who can give you better advice than me in any of those things.
So I decided to compile a list of weird advice instead.
I like pitching. I’m the sort of person that genuinely enjoys being on stage and talking – a discovery that took me years to come to terms with, because I spent all my middle and high school years to maybe mid-university keeping my head low and my hands lower, thinking myself a unadaptable, insufferable introvert, as demonstrated by my social pariah status back until I graduated high school.
But as it turns out, people change. Sometimes it’s the big things, sometimes the little ones. And sometimes, the weird ones.
Here’s a list of advice that I would guess you haven’t gotten before. It’s what I’ve been using myself (and I promise I am a decent pitcher and public speaker) and what I’ve been recommending in classes, workshops and consultancy.
- Get in the habit of overmodulating by singing without making a sound. Start by picking a song you really like and that you feel a strong emotional connection with, and then “sing” the whole thing enunciating as exaggeratedly as you can and with as much passion as you can. This is a variation on advice I got from my singing coaches years back, when entrepreneurship wasn’t even a thing I knew of, and it’s been impressively helpful. I recommend it especially for people that need to pitch in their second or third language, for the obvious enunciating improvement, but I think the whole Being Extra Passionate bit is great for anyone that wants to deliver an impactful, natural and emotional pitch. It’s simple: be extra now and you’ll be comfortable being yourself later.
- Do something absolutely ridiculous on purpose. And please, note I say ridiculous, not dangerous. Be safe. And then, when you get nervous right before going on stage, tell yourself: Well, This Surely Isn’t The Most Embarrassing Thing I’ve Done. Looking back on it will either make you laugh if you’re over it (which is great! Bye nerves!) or make you realize that even if you went completely blank and peed your pants in stage you would STILL not reach the level of embarrassment of the previous ridiculous thing, so either way: Success!
- Practice your pitch while performing cardio. Either jogging, biking (on a static bike please for the love of all that is holy don’t go and hurt yourself because you were too caught up on your speech), rope skipping, or anything that leaves your mouth free (sorry, swimmers). Your breathing will improve tremendously, and proper breathing leads to better voice projection and better management of pauses and silences for dramatism and better delivery. Plus, you’re going to feel so damn cool doing it. You might even get ideas on how to improve your speech while you’re at it. I personally think there’s no better place to think than on a treadmill (and no better place to not think than in front of a punching bag, great for both pre and post-stage catharsis).
- Roleplay. Now hear me out: Not the bed kind, but the uber-nerd Dungeons and Dragons kind. Get comfortable pretending to be someone else, and being extra while doing it. There’s something liberating about pretending to be somebody else too, and you might find you talk better, more naturally and more freely. This also ties in very nicely with point number 2 because obviously at first it’s going to be awkward as hell. But once you’re comfortable with thinking of your talking self as a different persona, you can go on stage and pretend you are the speaker you want to be. DONE.
- Used. To. Long. Dramatic. Pauses. Honestly, pausing for effect makes everything sink in. There is an amazing power in silence. So practice it in your daily speech and give your friends either a) a good laugh or b) an ulcer because WHY ARE YOU TAKING SO LONG TO SAY THE THING
- This one comes from an awesome entrepreneur that happened to do beauty pageants, Nichol Bradford: Say your full speech with a pencil between your teeth. If you’re brave enough, I recommend having an audience so that you can get point 2 done right away since you’re going to become a slobbering mess. Again, since this helps with proper enunciation, I recommend it especially for people pitching in languages different from their own.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve tried, and did it work? Will you be trying any of these for your next pitch? Should we start some pitch pencil slobbering challenge?
Best of lucks!