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5 steps to be pitch perfect

A five-minute pitch could make or break the future of your NFP.

Professionals in the NFP sector are forever having to pitch their cause to corporates, government officials and banks, just to mention a few, as charities and social enterprises often have to rely on external funds to keep their cause afloat.

Perfecting your pitch can mean finally obtaining that $500,00 grant you have been hoping for. A five-minute pitch could make or break the future of your NFP.

To uncover the five best ways to become pitch perfect, Third Sector spoke to pitch coach Rob Irving of The Funding Network Australia…

  1.      Know your story/Tell a great story

It is important to speak from your own experience and let the audience know what you love about what you do. “That is what connects us to people – tell your story,” says Irving.

The best pitches he sees are by individuals who have had experience in or a personal connection to the cause they are promoting. As an example, tell tells of a refugee who, in his pitch about a social enterprise that helps young refugees, used his personal experience to communicate a great story and message.

“Pitches that come from personal experience or a deep passion are the ones that really shine,” says Irving.

  1.      Know your who

Knowing your audience is vital to how you present your pitch. You do not need expensive research to know an audience, but it is important to do the necessary checks, which can be as easy as searching online or asking around.

Irving says it is important to match what you are pitching to an organisation’s values. If your organisation has something to do with children, why pitch to an organisation that has nothing to do with children?

  1.      Know your why

People often find it hard to work out the “why” of their organisation. “To quote motivational speaker Simon Sinek, ‘People do not buy what you do – they buy what you believe in’,” says Irving.

“Knowing what differentiates you from your competitors is incredibly important. There is always a way of finding your ‘why’ and its difference to another organisation’s ‘why’.”

It is crucial to interrogate the issue, not the person. It is all about the brand and letting the audience know what that brand stands for.

  1.      Define your target responses

The only measurable form of communication is the response. It is important to ask, “What would I like the audience to notice?”, and it is also important to focus on your body language when pitching an idea – do you smile, do you move, do you look at the audience?

“It’s all about the sensory stuff that most people ignore, as most individuals just concentrate on the slides and what they are saying,” says Irving. “I am also a big believer that you should ditch the PowerPoint slides. Focus instead on your movement, your voice and the message you are trying to get across, not the words on a screen.”

What do you want people to feel when they are listening to you? It is important to go into a pitch knowing the answer to that question.

“Always remember that the only thing you measure at the end is the response, and that’s why it is important to pay attention to detail.”

  1.      Map out your pitch

You need to have a clear plan of what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. Always start with a powerful opening to grab the audience’s attention.

Irving says it is important to have a clear articulation of essence: why you are there, what the benefit of your work is and its impact. It is then important to have a strong wrap-up and end with a call to action.

“Just remember to do what works for you, do what is in your comfort zone,” says Irving. “Practice is fundamental – do it front of your cat, your family and your colleagues. Video yourself and measure the response you are getting. It is highly important to critique yourself.”

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