The five-step process of pitching like a pro


When communicating verbally, exploit your awareness of the five-step oral message-sending process. DILE PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

Imagine yourself as an investor from South Africa who desires to enter the Kenyan market. You meet two businessmen pitching you their ideas of where to put your money.

The first, Njuguna, starts off and tells you a long story about how he got into the business and how he loves his business activities.

You try hard to concentrate, but you get bored as he rambles on and on. You wonder when will he get to the point and tell you his actual recommendations for investing.

The second businessman, Chuma, gives you a concise one-minute pitch stating who he is, his ideas, and his recommendation for your investment.

Shocked at Chuma’s targeted manner, you immediately ask to hear a full presentation, meanwhile dismissing Njuguna to leave the room.

Does the above scenario resonate with you? Have you ever been in business meetings where people ramble on and on and never get to a concise point?

On the flip side, do your colleagues or investors feel that you yourself ramble on?

Clearly, you desire to strike a balance between polite back-and-forth banter that builds the personal relationships between you and your colleagues and investors.

But you also need to be very direct, confident, and targeted when it comes to pitching your core ideas. The more words you utilise to communicate your core business goals, the less people remain interested and they feel you do not really have your priorities in order.

When communicating verbally, exploit your awareness of the five-step oral message-sending process.

First, develop rapport with your listeners. East Africans develop rapport well and do so better than those from many other cultures.

Second, state your communication objective clearly. We in East Africa often lack verbal clarity when stating our communication objectives efficiently.

How many of your colleagues take long to tell you their main point in talking to you because they harbour fear about your response? Professionals cannot tolerate individuals who fail to state their intentions clearly and swiftly.

Third, go ahead and transmit your message.

Fourth, make sure you gauge your listener’s understanding of your message. Do not ask simple questions such as: “did you understand”.

Such yes or no responses from your listeners do not reflect their true understanding. Give open-ended options, like: “what do you think of my suggestion”.

Finally, get a commitment from your listener and follow-up timeframes. If your listener does not commit and you two do not agree to a deliverable timeframe, then nothing further will likely occur following your message.

In East Africa, we often feel rude to request such follow-ups. But, as businesspeople, we must ensure efficiency and business operations.

You did not speak with the colleague, supplier, or investor for your own personal fun. You held a specific objective. Do not let the objective go to waste by neglecting to pursue follow-up.

Now thinking of Njuguna and Chuma’s different communication techniques, what solution could you advise to Njuguna to strengthen his likelihood of future success?

Every successful businessman and businesswoman should develop a one-minute pitch. Think of it as a self-sell.

Integrate your pitch as part of a personal workplace communications strategy that you develop for yourself. Your one-minute self-sell pitch should contain the following three components: a very short history of yourself and what you do, you or your firm’s future plans, and a question or invitation for the listener.

Practice your pitch. Make sure to keep it to under a minute. Utilise the pitch when you meet someone on a lift, in a county meeting, or on an aeroplane.

If you possess the self-sell pitch in your arsenal of personal and professional tools, you may make new connections and network with a wider variety or even unexpected prospective partners in addition to impressing the partners you currently engage in your business.

Even MBA students should have self-sell pitches ready and seek advice through the ending question at the end of the pitch from business professionals in their prospective fields.

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