Starting your own business can be overwhelming: you’re likely to doubt yourself at some point on the journey. So, when it’s time for your first business pitch to potential clients, how do you build up your confidence that you can do it?
Confidence is your key to securing new clients. You’re bound to be going up against more established businesses when you’re pitching for a contract – but don’t let that put you off. If your service or product can solve their problem, you can stand alongside your competitors: it doesn’t matter if you haven’t got any other clients yet.
All it takes is one.
Every business had to start somewhere – so we asked some entrepreneurs how they manage to be comfortable and confident when pitching clients:
1. Be Aware Of Your Body Language
“Having a confident pitch can change the entire outcome of your business. When pitching you can show confidence by smiling and standing still, do not bob back and forth. Also practice in the mirror and make sure you are 100% ready and have your pitch down. Ask yourself questions that you think may come up during the pitch and have great responses ready.
When you think you’re ready, pitch to a family member, friend, or business partner, and make sure they ask as many questions as possible. Be so ready that on the day of your pitch, you are excited and ready to answer a question before the question is even asked!”
2. Avoid Negative Language
“When people are about to present, they often downplay what they’re going to do. They may say something like, ‘I’m a bit sick. I have a cold, so this won’t be my best’, or ‘I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare, so I apologise in advance.’ The theory behind this tactic is to under-promise and hopefully over-deliver. The presenter could just as well be thinking to themselves, ‘If I tell everyone I am a terrible speaker, all I have to do is not pass out and they’ll be impressed.’
Here’s the problem with that: The under-promise, over-deliver way of thinking only works when you are talking about quantifiable facts, things like dates or money. However, in something like a presentation where your audience’s feelings and emotions come into play and can’t be quantified, the mood you set helps to determine the outcome. When you downplay yourself before you start your message, you are immediately downplaying the mood for the audience and kill your own confidence.
Think about the last time you were at a concert or a sporting event. What did the MC say before the event started? Did he apologize and tell the audience that the event won’t be that good because the team or rock star is tired? Or did the MC scream into the microphone, ‘This is going to be greatest night of your life!’? The MC gets the audience to where they need to be and gets the confidence up for the entertainer.
When it comes to presentations, pitches or any sort of message, do not be afraid to be your own MC. Tell people you are awesome, tell people you are going to be awesome, and they will see you as awesome because you are awesome!”
- Danny Pehar, President, Cyber Insurance Education
3. Determine If Your Fear Is Fact Or Fiction
“Before a pitch, as the fear racks up, I ask myself this question: ‘Is this fear fact or fiction?’
99.99% of the time the thing we fear is fictional. For example, if we're afraid the person we are pitching will reject us, this fear is fictional: we don't know if they will reject us or not because it hasn't happened yet. Or if we fear we will mess up, that’s entirely fictional. We may or may not mess up, but the fear itself is fictional.
This question always helps me become more confident because that fear turns
into confidence knowing that I don't want to have some fictional idea, something that's not even real, control my life or my actions.
One other simple sentence I always say to myself is: ‘I fear regret more than I fear failure’.“
- Alexa Carlin, Founder, Women Empower Expo
4. Do Your Research
“I believe that to have more confidence with pitching, you have to be prepared! You have to do your research, know your target, know their history (even personally). Do some research in advance [about the people you’re pitching to] - LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. Know if you have people, schools, prior business roles, etc., in common.
This is a great way to build rapport and to ensure that you have a good start to your conversation. Once everyone is more relaxed and feels they know people in common, they are far more likely to have a good, open-minded conversation.”
- Deborah Sweeney, CEO, Mycoperation
5. Remember That You’ve Been Given Their Time – They’re Already Interested
“Remember that they are here to see you. Know that everyone in attendance is there to see your presentation. They want to hear your pitch and soak in the value that you’re offering. Don’t worry if someone leaves in the middle of your talk or no one laughs at one of your remarks, the people sitting in those seats are interested in what you have to say. They wouldn’t be there otherwise.
Stand tall and be confident in your abilities. Exude energy. Pitching your work is an exciting time so enjoy the opportunity! You’ll be great. Trust me.”
- Andrew J. Chwalik, Video Story Teller
One Last Confidence Tip…
Breathe! If you take a few minutes to breathe deeply before your pitch, and remember to take pauses when you’re talking through your pitch, you’ll remain calm. A calm outlook is vital to being confident. Taking a pause to catch a breath mid-pitch will also give your potential clients a moment to digest what you’ve said already, giving your pitch pace and momentum without being rushed.
Take your time.
You got this.