All people that are successful at pitching have one superpower. I’m not talking about the kind of superpower that Superman has where he can fly and beam lasers from his eyes. Or the Hulk being muscular or Spiderman, with his webs coming out of his wrists. Or Wonder Woman with her blasts from her wrists. No, this is a very terrestrial normal human power that we all have to a lesser or greater degree and all great pitching princes and pitching princesses have it fully developed. And you too can develop this superpower but what is it?
What then is this pitching superpower? It is empathy or being empathetic. Not pathetic, empathetic. How do we get empathy and why do we want it? Empathy is important if we are going to appreciate how others think and feel. Whenever we pitch to an audience we should always adjust our pitch to take into account exactly how they see the world. There are two ways of looking at empathy.
Empathy: Two Kinds
If you think this is an agonizing, excruciating post and you can’t wait for it to finish you might be right now crying. In which case I am able to well up a lot of tears that come pouring down my cheeks – that’s one way of having empathy.
Another way is to be able to view the world through the same lens as others. Perhaps I see the world as really positive but my audience are negative. I’m able to lift myself up and view the world through their lens and then accordingly change my pitch.
Now pitching with empathy is really important but not everybody wants to have empathy.
Indeed not everybody can have it. People that are autistic are often said to have very low levels of empathy and unable to develop empathy. Surgeons and doctors, people that do things which potentially could compromise them if they feel what they’re doing, they don’t want empathy. Often if you speak to a surgeon or doctor they might seem somewhat off hand at times. That’s often because they try and reduce down their empathy so that their judgment and their decision making is not clouded by the way that their patients feel. But for us in pitching we need empathy.
How do we develop empathy? There’s a couple of things that Jonathan Marshall the psychologist said to me are good ways of developing empathy.
How To Improve Your Empathy
Instead of thinking about how we feel about other people or other people’s feelings we must first get in contact with our own feelings. In other words right now how do I feel? My hands on this table, it is real wood, it’s not too cold. My feet are on the floor but then actually when I start to think about me how do I feel right now? I have a bright light shining into my face that’s kind of making things a bit difficult for me. Really I want to get through this process as quickly as possible because I have a life to lead but nonetheless I think it’s important to shoot make these posts. So these are my feelings right now.
Jonathan suggests that as soon as we get down how we feel will get better at feeling how other people feel. The other way that he describes we can develop a sense of empathy is by talking to others about how they view us. For example, I always think that I am viewed as ABC but actually if I go and ask other people I know that some people do not see me as ABC. They see me as XYZ. Some people see me not at all in the way that I want to be seen. I want to be seen as a sexy, in demand, highly successful, likeable, extremely funny, always levelheaded, gregarious guy, but that’s not how everyone sees me it’s sad to say.
Developing Empathy My Way
How do I go about developing my own levels of empathy?
I go and I talk to other people about their views of me sometimes. I’m trying to get in contact more with my own feelings.
One other way I develop a higher level of empathy is to burst my bubble of friends and colleagues and just go and talk to completely random strangers.
Things like Meetups are great for that. You enter a room, you go to a place, you meet people who you really genuinely would not meet otherwise. Also try and do things that you don’t like doing. That will help you grow as a person but it means perhaps you’ll come across people that you would otherwise never do.
Recently I went and did an improvisation course and suddenly I was surrounded by lots of actors and I found that all very strange. I’ve met some comedians too and suddenly I started to appreciate the world perhaps a little bit more through their lenses. If I ever come to pitch to people that are actors or thespians perhaps I’ll have a say higher level of empathy.
In conclusion, our pitching superpower is empathy. I would hope that you’re being empathetic with me and you are reading this post and you’re thinking to yourself ‘this is wonderful’. If you think it it’s wonderful show me your high degree of empathy, ‘like me’. Write comments about me, positive please. Be genuinely generous and warm towards me. Show me your empathy and I’ll show you mine back.