While searching for suggestions on how to improve the pitch of your business ideas, you’ll find countless numbers of articles and books on the subject. The vast majority focus on what I consider the technical mechanics of a good pitch: the order of your slide deck, the number of slides, preparing for difficult questions and so forth. Having a solid handle on the technical aspects, coupled with good delivery is important to a successful pitch. However, something else is required to elevate the connection of your pitch.
Having been on the receiving end of hundreds of pitches, I can innately recognize this special something, when I feel an authentic connection with the presenter. It goes beyond having well-polished soft skills. I’ve had a hard time describing this x-factor until I stumbled across Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy’s new book, Presence. Amy describes what I’m talking about as having a strong sense of presence. At first glance, the idea of presence seems a little underwhelming. You might think, yes, showing up to pitch and being present is pretty important. Don’t confuse being physically present with presence.
Presence is about letting your boldest authentic self shine through
What exactly is presence? Amy defines presence as “…the state of being attuned to and able to comfortably express our true thoughts, feelings, values and potential.” Presence is about letting your boldest authentic self shine through. Why this matters in the context of delivering a pitch, it establishes trust. No matter how great your pitch is, if the recipient doesn’t walk away feeling they can trust you, you’re not going to get very far. A strong presence reflects confidence, comfort and passionate enthusiasm.
Amy’s book is the result of what spawned from her popular TED talk (second most view TED talk in history). I highly recommend her book for learning about developing a strong sense of presence. The book is full of gems well beyond the context of pitching.
For your next pitch, invest in taking a balanced approach in your preparation efforts. Invest in nailing both the technical aspects as well as ensuring you’re able to bring a strong sense of presence.