Introduction: Winging a Pitch

Should we prepare for… I haven’t prepared for this video and I’m trying to show you as a result what happens. Because this is exactly like what happens when we don’t prepare for a pitch. When we don’t prepare for a pitch we need to think in our heads about what we’re going to say. As a result I will say needless words, I’ll just speak for the sake of speaking, which means I’m verbose and I’m not concise and my mission is lost.

You will see that my body language is kind of shrunken, a bit refrained. I will ‘um’ I will ‘er’ I’ll speak less clearly. My tone of voice will be a bit more quivering and I’ll probably use things like props and slides. That ladies and gentleman is an example of me speaking directly to a camera without :any preparation whatsoever.

Winging A Pitch

The question we’re trying to address here is whether or not we should prepare for our pitches or whether or not we should winging a pitch. Why on earth would you want to wing a pitch? Good question. Answer two reasons.

The very first reason why you will not want to prepare for a pitch and you’ll want to wing it is because preparation equals hard work that’s obvious. But the second reason that we like to think that we can wing pitches is because when we wing it we tell people ‘we just wing it’.

That means we suggest that we’re pretty cool and it comes naturally to us and everyone thinks that we’re something special. Well guess what ladies and gentlemen there’s no such thing you need to prepare, everybody needs to prepare.

Grand Tour

I recently watched a television episode from Amazon, Grand Tour with Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear fame and in that they videoed him not preparing for a clip at all and what happened? You saw him sat in a car and trying to think about words to describe the car. He said something like ‘this car is like….’ and he was lost. He needed time to prepare to think about the way he was going to describe that word he’s the Prince of puns and metaphors but only when he has prepared.

When I’ve not Prepared for a Speech

Now I am guilty of not, preparing in the past but not in pitches, in best man speeches. The very first time I was asked to give a best man speech I was and I gave a five minute speech and after that speech I got lots of thumbs up from the audience and pats on the back. People bought me beer. I felt pretty good about that and as a result for the next six times that I was a best man I’ve been best man seven times in total for the next six times I never once prepared my speech.

The thing is as I got older I started to see the thumbs disappearing and the pats no longer arriving. I discovered that people’s expectations had risen and at the age of 32, I really needed to be pretty good at delivering a speech because I I was a grown adult. People thought ‘why isn’t Andrew doing his friend a good service and describing him and his nature and all the good things that you should bring up in a best man speech’. I’m not going to attempt it now.

After seven speeches in total with seven best man speeches I now realize what a golden opportunity it is to have all of those people in the room listening to you and how much I wasted every single one of those opportunities. It’s not to  say that we don’t say some good things it’s just that we don’t say enough good things about that person. In a pitch what will happen if you wing your pitch you will say some things that are good. But, I guarantee every time that you leave that room you can look back on that pitch and say to yourself ‘oh wish I said or I should have said I remember I should have said next time I’ll say that’. But if you wing it next time you won’t say that. We must always prepare our pitches.

When to Wing a Pitch

I have one exception where I actually do not prepare my pitches and that’s when I’m doing something called pitch hack London. I have a big group of people in the room and I’m helping them with their pitches. When I’m doing something like a guest lecture I’ll go into that room and I’ll ask people anyone in the audience to throw at me a product or a service and I will pitch it back to you within seconds. Sure enough pretty much without fail I will always get a spontaneous round of applause but that round of applause is not because the pitch is of a high quality. It’s because the audience appreciates that I can actually form a pitch within that period of time, they know it’s spontaneous.

Conclusion

When you go to see an investor, when you go to see a prospect, when you go to see a client and you pitch in to them they do not expect you to improvise. They expect you to have prepared. So do yourself a good service and do your audience the good service of preparing your pitch. Remember the saying of the special forces: proper preparation prevents, poor performance.