So You Know How To Pitch… It’s just a shame that you’re too nervous.
I cringed as I typed the title of this blog post.
“Oh, Valerie, Valerie, Valerie,” I think. “You could have done so much better.”
Two months ago, I posted about how to pitch it to win it. I have since then made the JDC West Entrepreneurship team, where every week we create a new business given a 2-page industry summary and make a pitch deck to go along with it. My team is amazing, the coaches even more so, and I could not feel more… timid with the sheer amount of “awesome” surrounding me.
I realized that I could write something that read well on paper, invent a relevant story, but I couldn’t deliver. Every time I opened my mouth, I got nervous, stumbled on my words, and talked way too fast for anyone to process. I blame it on the time my voice cracked during a solo in a middle school concert. BRUTAL. I still get nervous looking at the picture of the mic up there.
Knowing my personality, I couldn’t just sit back and watch myself be mediocre at something for the rest of my life. So, I had motivation. Intention. Now I just need the conviction.
I have now decided to set goals for myself to improve my speaking ability in two weeks time (December 5) through intense practice:
BABY STEPS: GO BACK TO THE BASICS
RELAX: address the audience, pause, smile, “transform nervous energy into enthusiasm”
CONTROL: count to three before starting, control breathing and loudness of voice, and do NOT trail off.
PACE: manage the rhythm and speed of speech, rate of changing slides
ENUNCIATE: open your mouth wider, relax your tongue with tongue twisters/exercises, talk slower and louder than you think, practice pauses, inflections, vocal dynamics
EXPRESS: Check facial expressions, body movements.
SING: support from your diaphragm, assume a persona, nestle into the moment, forget the audience, and lose yourself in what comes out of your mouth
BE WILE E. COYOTE: SKILLS TO USE
MESSAGE: Wile E. Coyote always has one message that he conveys in each Bugs Bunny episode – “Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Wile E. Coyote, supergenius.” Effective, simple, and easy to remember. This is the one thing you must get across if all else fails.
OUTLINE: Create a solid, transferable, easy-to-remember methodology. Structure will help with efficiency and confidence. What are the pivotal points you need to get across?
MANIPULATE: the atmosphere and the audience’s attention
CONFIDENCE: emanate an irrefutable charisma, but not come across as cocky
CONQUER: stop being afraid. You can do it.
CONVICTION: you have to believe in yourself before others will believe in you
FINISH: Close with a BANG!
HOMEWORK: PRACTICE MAKES GREATNESS
WATCH: people who are good at speaking and notice what they do (pronunciation, speed)
DO: Practice speaking. Read story books to kids, see how engaged they are. Read spoken word poetry.
AND ALWAYS REMEMBER…
The team and audience are all rooting for you. They want you to do well. They want you to rock it. It all starts with a smile and a song.