November 14, 2013
Something simple to do yet something not often done is practicing a pitch before a meeting. I visited a prospect this week and in preparation had developed a new close message. It was an important meeting (they all are), and everything from the opening to the content to the close had to go well, had to be clear, had to be succinct.
On my flight there, I completed my normal mental preparation and was going to count on my ability to simply speak. I was good to go – works every time, right? But, no, it was not good enough as I was reminded after reading an article about Malcolm Gladwell and his book, Outliers. It is a good read, and the quote that came to mind was “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”
So practice I did, right in front of the mirror in my hotel room. Yeah, it seems silly. Quite the opposite – it’s powerful to practice in front of a mirror, actually giving the presentation out loud. It is a classic public-speaking prep step, yet many of us don’t do it. Excuses range from “I don’t have enough time” to “I’m naturally good at this and don’t need to practice.” I needed the practice and from it, I changed a story I was using, modified the opening, and tailored some words for clarity. And, I felt the prep the next day because I was smoother, slower, and succinct.
So, just a simple question – when was the last time you practiced a pitch out loud?