How to prepare for a pitch (or: how one founder approaches it)
This article is a guest contribution by Markus Mühlberger, Master in Software Engineering and Internet Computing and founder of GoElis. Markus produces online courses on Elixir, Swift and React Native for the MOOC platform Envato Tuts+ (tutsplus.com).
People tell me, that I do things differently, so I wrote about my process to deliver a great pitch and feel confident while doing so.
As you know, time is limited during a pitch. Be it two, four or if it’s a very generous time limit seven minutes. To include everything you want to say within this time, you need a plan, and to make it as clear a pitch as possible, you need an even better one.
I produce online video courses about programming for a living. Also, even though I’m very proficient in English, it’s not my native language. To add to this, I’m normally quite shy and get very nervous before public talks. I try and combat this, by writing a script for every video I record and reading that script back during recording. Of course, this doesn’t work in a public speaking arrangement, and even less so during a pitch where you need the audience to be as excited as you are about your idea.
Writing a script before creating your presentation also helps guide the order of your slides and visual story.
So, what I do is record myself reading the script, and use that to rehearse it, first by listening to it in a loop, and one day before the pitch in front if a mirror until I know it by heart. To make it look like a freestyle op, I analyze the sentences during rehearsal to add pauses in the middle of sentences, to emphasize phrases and sometimes intentionally make a sentence less perfect.
You will have to be careful, because if you do mess up, you have to be able to recover quickly. This means, bridging from the mistake back to your script. To write my scripts, I use writing app Ulysses. The app has a feature, that estimates the “read out loud” time so you can tweak the pitch to the target length, while writing it. In my case, it’s a bit generous, which means I can deduct about 5–10% of the estimate.
Although it totally sounds artificial from my perspective, since I know the story inside out, people are surprised to find out I practice so thoroughly, as it doesn’t sound too ‘rehearsed’.
We’re about 3 minutes and 55 seconds in, perfect pitch time. I encourage you to give it a try and tell me what you think: firstname.lastname@example.org