I hope you’re learning something from this tutorial on verbal pitches! Today’s the day I’m going to ask for your pitches in the comments so pay attention.
One of the keys to pitching that I haven’t mentioned yet is the correct timing of a verbal (or elevator) pitch. When do you give one? The answer is…when you’re invited or when there is an appropriate opening.
You don’t want to accost agents and editors and say, “Listen to my pitch!” However, there are many times at conferences when you may be in, say, an elevator, or at a cocktail party, or at dinner, when someone looks you in the eye and says, “So what are you writing?” That’s your opening.
Now, another thing we haven’t discussed is the process of crafting the elevator pitch. I think your best chance for success is to take it seriously as a multi-step process (because I know you have nothing else to do) and put some time into it. The effort will allow you to overcome shyness, discomfort with verbal presentations, and even nervousness around publishing professionals. Preparation always boosts confidence, and if there’s one thing I see writers struggling with, it’s confidence. So how do you prepare?
8 Steps to the Perfect Pitch
1. Write it. Craft your pitch 10 or 20 different ways and different lengths. Don’t skimp on this step. Challenge yourself to get out of your mental box when it comes to the way you think of your own manuscript. Even if you’ll never use some of your attempts, it will tap your creativity and help you figure out what might make your project interesting to someone else.
2. Record it. Speak all your pitches aloud into a recording device.
3. Wait. Let some time elapse before going back to your recording.
4. Listen. Go back to your recording, and take notes as you listen to each pitch. Which parts work, which don’t? What do you need to improve about your delivery? Piece together the best parts and…
5. Rewrite. Try to come up with at least five good pitches based on what you’ve learned.
6. Record again. And let some time elapse before listening.
7. Final edit. Take one more shot at revising. Finish with at least three good pitches tailored for different situations or audiences.
8. Practice. Now’s the time to begin using the mirror, your spouse, your kids, your friends.
Don’t get so “polished” that you sound unnatural, but DO get to the point where you know your pitch so well you can rattle it off without thinking much.
REMEMBER as you craft your pitch: It’s a conversation. There’s a real live person standing next to you in the elevator. You only have until you reach the 16th floor. What are you gong to say?
Post your elevator pitches here. I will not be able to critique everyone’s pitch, but I’ll choose a few to critique on the blog. This won’t happen until sometime next week as I’m headed out to a conference until Sunday (where I’ll be listening to elevator pitches).
Update: Too late to submit your elevator pitches! I have over 100 and I can only critique a dozen or so.
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