Just over a year ago I posted ‘Pitching – Control What They See’. It was one of my first posts, and is still one of my most read!
Events this week have made me remember this post. I wanted to explore what I said to see if I still agree.
1 – The Voice
I gave the advice that you need to be in control of your voice and recognise when it might speed up or shake.
This is harder than it sounds, it means you have to not only think about what you’re going to say, but also what you just said. You need to listen to spot when you might be sounding unnatural and correct it.
I mentioned that you can pause and take a breath. What I would add is that you shouldn’t be afraid of silence. If your content is good and you’re engaging with your tone and body language, then the audience will be very patient. You can take your time to make your words clear and effective!
2 – Body Language
Here I mentioned the uniqueness of people’s nervous movement. I’ve come to see many more variations on this over the year. Every time you can see a person wishing the movement wouldn’t happen, but they seem to not have control. Again it’s about self-awareness; find out what it is you do and be ready to spot and control it.
Now, my general advice for body language is to be open. Legs shoulder width apart, and don’t be afraid to take a few steps. Arms away from your side and talk with your hands, it displays lots of confidence whilst actually giving you an outlet to release the nerves!
3 – Content
The sentence I used to sum this up a year ago is definitely the sentence I’d still use –
Understanding, rather than learning.
Think about it, you could talk about your childhood, school, hobbies etc. a lot easier than astrophysics (unless that’s your hobby), because you know and understand what happened and why. You aren’t remembering lines, you’re remembering memories, stories, and information that are then turned into words to speak.
This is where you can over-rehearse. Practice saying the same thing in a different way, then if you feel nervous you’ve still got multiple ways to proceed.
To this day I still feel nervous when pitching, yet I try to portray confidence. As mentioned in the original post you can’t control what people think, but you can control what they see!