If you think about it, life is full of pitches. Starting when you were probably 5 years old, you were pitching your mom and dad on that GI Joe action figure or that limited edition of dragon ball pogs. Maybe it was that pony from the local fair that you created a bond with or that big-ass lollipop that you knew you never going to finish.
You remember, right? The begging, the pleading, the statement of kid facts, the comparisons to others, the guilt trips about how nice other parents were, etc. etc.
It didn't stop, too. The begging, pleading, and guilt trips became more elaborate as the goals became larger - sleepovers, more TV, and then that new car. Take a look at this kid doing a presentation:
I'm 35 years old and I'll tell you this, it doesn't seem like pitching will ever stop, especially in work life. I had to pitch myself in my first job interview, pitch a promotion to a manager, pitch a new idea in a brainstorm with my colleagues and am now pitching new clients on the awesomeness of Buzzsmith.
There are literally hundreds of pitches I had to do over the course of my career and I'm pretty sure I failed at most of them. The key is confidence and the key to confidence is learning from each experience and preparing yourself for the moment that you will need to deliver for your team. Mental preparation and accepting the challenges that come with pitching are what really makes or breaks the pitch.
"You know what? Shoot 1,000 jump shots a day and you're going to miss a lot of those shots, but then you're teaching yourself that, hey, it's okay to miss." - Kobe Bryant
Now you have the confidence, let's get into the nitty gritty of the actual pitch. I can tell you all the basic stuff like identifying goals, empathizing with your audience, don't read your slides word for word and stand up straight during the pitch. But I'm going to take a different approach. I'm going to talk about how to incorporate story telling into your pitch.
While I was at Disney, one of the most important lessons I learned was the art of story telling and yes, that skill really just oozes out of the seven dwarves noses as they drench you with the kool-aid during the orientation tour. As with any good story, there needs to be a hero, a villain, a taste of the promiseland, the loss, the struggle to get it back and the climax.
In pitches, it's your job to make the audience/client the hero and the problem they've identified as the villain. The taste of the promise land can probably be drawn from a company's mission statement or a presentation of an environment where their dreams have been reached. The loss is going to be showing them what life will be like if they don't buy into your pitch. Be careful not to demoralize your audience to the point where they want to give up. Right before they reach that point of hopelessness, snatch them up and show them the path of what happens when they buy into your idea. Step by step, you should be able to present small solutions that lead to the next solution that leads to the next solution. Build the momentum with each of these small steps to the point where your audience is wanting more . . . . . . that's when you got them. That is when you hit the climax of your pitch and you leave them with an obvious choice to move forward with you.