It happened on 30th April. I had a pre-booked 7-min-long speaking session at my Toastmasters club meet-up, but 2 hours prior the start still I had no prepared speech. Although the topic was already in my mind, but that’s all. I didn’t want to cancel or postpone the speech, so I decided to go for a short run to clear my mind and figure out the wireframe of my speech. I did it accordingly. After 30 mins run and a quick shower I was ready for the ‘show-time’.
I chose a topic which was close and relevant not only to me, but also to others. Another key point was to be easy to share, present and illustrate online as well. I found out a short, easy to remember title and added a catchy opening statement followed by a slight twist to grab the audience’s attention. In order to effectively convey my message, I was sharing a personal story with 3 specific examples on my key message and I was also using few visual aids. At the end a bit emotional part was implemented, too. In my closing I was targeting my listeners with few involving questions and asking them to think about the relevancy of my story. With my last sentence I was bringing back my speech title, which functioned as a call to action message, therefore I could emphasize my key message even more. I enjoyed the whole speech very much and all feedbacks were very positive. This happening has given me the idea to this blog article.
Doesn’t matter, if it is about an unprepared speech or an ad-hoc pitch, there are 10+1 steps, which help you succeed every time. If now you thoroughly think abut all of them and always follow them, you can easily react on even unexpected situations, too.
1. TAKE A SHORT BREAK OR AT LEAST A DEEP BREATH
If you have a chance, just take a short break, ask for a toilet break before starting, to be able to clear your mind, refresh yourself, find your focus, and think about your goal, structure, messages and delivery. If you don’t have any time, just take a deep breath and try to find your focus immediately.
2. BE AWARE OF YOUR GOAL
Whatever happens, always know your goal and speak according to it. Do you want to intro your business idea, persuade somebody or make a deal? Be aware of it and use your structure, tone of voice, arguments and rhetorical devices adjusted to it.
3. DEFINE, REMEMBER AND EMPHASIZE YOUR KEY MESSAGES
It is crucial to have your pre-defined maximum 3 messages and solidly, consistently use them in your all communications. Repeat them at least 3 times while you are speaking, sincse the more often people hear them, the more likely people remember on them.
4. CLARIFY ‘WHAT IS IN IT FOR THEM’
Clarify the added value of your product/service. Firstly for yourself, then in the certain context for your potential customers. Imagine yourself in your potential customers’ situation: what is in it for them? What is the benefit for them? Adjust your pitch to it. And one more thing: always be aware of and highlight your USP (unique selling proposition), which is beyond your ‘simple’ product benefits, therefore you can distinguish yourself from your competitors.
5. SKETCH THE STRUCTURE IN YOUR MIND
Before jumping into the pitch, just quickly think over, how you will build up your speech. Classical outline with an opening, body and conclusion? What will be your orderly manner: chronological, comparative, problem-solution etc.? When will you go into the details and get to the point? In the middle or in medias res? Just quickly think it over so that you can be more organized and impactful.
6. FIND OUT AN ATTENTION GRABBING OPENING
Start with a provocative statement, an impressive number, an interesting fact, a personal story, an actual happening or an attention-getting generalisation that tie in with your subject and catch the audience’s attention. Memorable beginnings make you memorable, too.
7. USE THE POWER OF STORY TELLING
Tell a story to convey your message more effectively. Your audience can understand, connect to and engaged with you more easily. Of course depending on your available time choose the right duration for this purpose. You can use it just as a starting tool or you can wrap and deliver your whole pitch in a story.
8. REINFORCE YOUR MESSAGE WITH VISUAL AID(S)
Apply a supporting material to help people remember on you, on your message and on your story even more. Depending the occasion and duration it might be a spontaneously showed video, photo, illustration, a drawing on flipchart or just your name card at the end of your pitch. Something which makes you memorable.
9. ADD SOME EMOTIONAL SPARKLES
Have an impact on hearts, not only on brains. Use an emotional hook for example at the end of your pitch to add the cherry on the cake. Remember, emotions might be as strong as financial facts.
10. INVOLVE YOUR AUDIENCE
Raise questions like ‘Have you ever …?’ or ‘Think about what would you do, if …?’ or ‘What is in your business now, which …?’. Give some time to your partners to connect to you and your message even more by saying ‘Imagine, what if …..’ You can also ask for their feedbacks so that they will feel valuable and appreciated. Start a conversation, develop an interactive session to know and keep up their interests.
+1. BUILD ON YOUR STRENGTHS AND TRUST YOURSELF
Be aware of your strengths and take the advantage of them. Doesn’t matter, if it is about your presentation skills, negotiation skills, expertise, style or personal vibes, know them and manage the situation on a way to be able to apply them.
What another extra steps do you have? What is your recipe?