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How to deliver the perfect pitch

Nicole Soames, CEO of Diadem and best-selling author of ‘The Influence Book’, shares her top tips on how to motivate the other person to say “yes”

Whether it’s pitching a business idea to a potential investor, persuading a client to agree to your proposal or asking a colleague to collaborate on a new project, we all try to influence other people
a lot of the time. The secret to delivering the perfect pitch is to harness your emotional intelligence so that you can sell your story with impact. As an EQ practitioner and qualified coach with more than 25 years’ experience helping people develop their influencing skills, here is my expert advice on how to communicate effectively so that you make it easy for the other person to say “yes.”

Be truly present in the moment

Strong influencers understand that the key to delivering an engaging story is to tap into your emotional intelligence to silence those negative thoughts that can undermine your self-belief and limit your performance. Only then will you be able to think live in the moment and communicate with confidence. The other person needs to believe in you and what you are saying if they are to ‘buy’ into your story. By being authentic and natural, you are more likely to build rapport and establish credibility with the other person, for as business author Zig Ziglar said, “If people like you they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you they’ll do business with you.”

Learn to walk the talk

Don’t underestimate the importance of thinking about what you are going to wear when you deliver your pitch. You need to be appropriately turned out – so if your meeting is on a Friday, double-check whether the other party follows an end-of-the-week, dress-down policy and choose your outfit accordingly. Remember to stand tall and make strong eye contact – just as it’s hard to say something negative with a smile on your face, so it’s difficult to communicate with confidence if your body language suggests you’re a pushover. Think about where you position yourself in the room to make the maximum impact. In a formal presentation, make sure you can read from your slides and still make eye contact with the other person.

Don’t try to wing it

In my experience, people spend hours preparing a compelling story or presentation, only to go off script during the influencing conversation itself. Strong influencers and reiterate their key messages so they land their main points. Use confident language and avoid ‘weak speak’, those vague phrases that undermine your credibility such as, “hopefully we can agree”, “believe me this is a great idea”. Every time you find yourself using one of these phrases, correct yourself by saying, “what I meant to say was…”. This way you will retrain your brain to use confident language that will help you persuade the other party to agree to your proposition.

Take the other person on a journey

As a rule, the pace of people’s speech generally speeds up when they’re feeling under pressure, so take active steps to slow yourself down. You should be building up to the crux of your story – that pivotal moment when you deliver your recommendation or ask – at this point you need to slow the conversation down, pause and spell out exactly what you are asking for so that the other person can take notes. Remember silence is powerful, it shows you have something important to say and gives the other party time to think. Try to fluctuate your tone and volume as this will help keep the other person engaged in what you have to say. Then dial up your energy and passion, but avoid rushing the end of your story.

This article was originally featured in The Informer – November 2018. To read the full magazine please click here