6 Steps to pitching your ideas – from elevator to boardroom

Dana Stoof, a University of Hertfordshire Alumna, gives her advice on pitching and how to get your ideas heard!

'So, you have a great idea. And all you need in order to realise it, is to convince someone else of the worth of this idea. Welcome to pitching!

The pitching process is an interesting one. It can be incredibly formal, with presentations and boardrooms, or the exact opposite - a chance encounter with that decision maker you were hoping to meet. Mastering the art of pitching can help you get what you want, whether it's a specific job, a dream client or even investment capital. So, let's break down what makes a good pitch and how to structure it.

1. Know your audience
Who is the recipient of your pitch? What are they like in their own dealings? Try to appeal to the things they clearly care about, whether that's integrity, profitability or something completely different. If you can show you've done your research and you truly understand your audience, this will instantly endear your idea to them.

2. Find your unique selling points
While your idea may seem like the best idea in the whole world, your audience will want to know how it benefits them. Make sure you tie in your selling points to the business or person you're pitching your idea to, and why it's really in their best interest to go with your idea. While it is your idea, you really want to drive home why they should care.

3. Prepare different versions of your pitch
Depending on how substantial and involved your idea is, you may want to prepare several levels to your pitch. For example, you may have a big document or PowerPoint presentation breaking down your idea into the finer details, but also have a very short 2-minute elevator pitch to give the short and sweet version of your idea. By having both options prepared ahead of time, you can use whichever one the situation calls for.

4. Have a plan
To show you truly believe in your ideas, you should also cover where you see things going in the future. If you're pitching to an investor, this could involve quite a lot of work with financial plans and exit strategies for example. At the smaller scale, it can just mean the results you are expecting. If you do capture your audience's interest, they will want to know more - and if you can go more in-depth and demonstrate you have put a lot of thought into this, you will surely impress.

5. Be concise. 
Try not to waffle. Your audience's time is precious, and they won't appreciate it being wasted. Give the necessary detail, but no more than is necessary. Getting your foot in the door is the most essential stage of this, and there will be more time for in-depth discussion once you have them hooked.

6. Practice often
Ask your friends and family if you can try pitching to them. Grow comfortable with your content, and your confidence will improve as a result. Ask your practice audience for feedback and try not to take things too personally.

Putting yourself and your ideas out there can be intimidating. However, getting heard and denied is always better than not getting heard at all. While it may feel like you're wearing your heart on your sleeve when you pitch, the aim is not for the other person to become your friend - it's simply finding a mutually beneficial arrangement. Using the above steps will help you bridge this understanding and bring your idea to life.'

Dana Stoof
TopLine Comms
University of Hertfordshire Alumna


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