Five Non-Verbal Tips to Improve Your Pitch
You have created inspiring slides, powerful handouts and practiced your talking points until you repeat them in your sleep. All the numbers add up to provide investors with a respectable and relatively certain return on their investment, so why are potential investors not flocking to you?
It might be your non-verbal behavior sabotaging your “performance.” Your audience is taking in your non-verbal behavior and is evaluating it in their brain without being conscious of it. All they know is whether they “like” you or not instinctively. As a Certified Movement Analyst, I am trained to make the subconscious conscious and notice what your non-verbal/subconscious behavior communicates to others and how to make you powerful and confident. In essence, my clients use their non-verbal behavior to create the outcome they desire!
The biggest turn off for most investors is a perceived lack of confidence or authority. If you don’t appear confident, they won’t trust you with their money!
The following 5 Non-Verbal Presentation Tips are easy to do. These are where I begin with most clients to increase their confidence and authority:
Every part of your presentation builds on breath! Shallow, quick breaths which raise your shoulders up makes people perceive you as nervous and less in control. Practice deep breathing (drop breath in so your belly expands first) and use it to calm yourself before you begin speaking.
If you are making a pitch to a large room and have a microphone, make sure you aren’t making noise when you breathe. To be silent, open your mouth and your throat or breathe slowly through your nose if you aren’t stuffy. The quicker your inhales, the more noise you will make.
Pausing (and silence) is the most underused technique during pitches. Even if your pitch is timed, you should pause a moment at the beginning before you start (especially if time starts on your first word). Taking this pause allows you to breathe and command the attention of your audience. Wait until your audience is looking up at you rather than down at your materials. Trust me! Next time you pitch, wait to start. When you don’t start talking, your potential investors will look up. Then smile at them and begin.
Insert pauses before and/or after important points to give them emphasis. Pausing before builds suspense and pausing afterward lets the words sink in. If you have a slide with a lot of data or text, give the investors time to read it.
Pausing immediately makes you appear more confident and slows you down so you aren’t rushing. Nerves speed most people up and speed is nearly always read as less confident and unpolished.
3. Light pressure
What do I mean by light pressure? Keep your gestures light rather than full of heavy pressure. Think of the old car dealership commercials where the owner would look in the camera and tell us to “buy now!” with emphatic gestures pumping up and down. This pressure gesture is the opposite signal we want to send. To see this demonstrated, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoDgYpCF3T0.
4. No wandering!
Move about with purpose. Take a step or cross the stage during transition points in your pitch. This signals to your audience when you are moving on to a new topic. Avoid constant moving, shifting or swaying at all costs! Extraneous movement detracts from your pitch and creates non- verbal “noise” for your listeners. You do not want your audience to have to “get past” your movement to hear your words.
5. Practice like it’s for real
Wear your clothes, shoes and accessories like it is the real deal! If your shoes are stiff or high heels, you may look uncomfortable. A jacket may restrict some of your gestures. Find out if you will be holding a hand mic and, if so, practice holding something.
Athletes, musicians, dancers and actors practice on a real field or stage with their real gear, props and costumes. Your pitch should be no different! Too many entrepreneurs practice their pitches sitting at their desk or driving in the car or on the treadmill. You must practice and know your pitch so well that unexpected curveballs won’t throw you in the moment. Mics cutting out, slides malfunctioning, a question you weren’t prepared for…if you have practiced well, you’ll handle it and not miss a beat!
About the Guest Blogger:
Alison Henderson is the founder of Moving Image Consulting which specializes in improving communication through Movement Pattern Analysis- a specialty linking subconscious behavior to decision-making. For more tips, visit www.movingimageconsulting.com. The on-line training perfect for pitches—Hard Assets Presentation Skills Training—is available at http://bit.ly/2srd9UT