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“Tell me about yourself.” It’s likely the first question you’ll be asked in an interview, at a job fair, or when meeting someone at a networking event. No matter what the situation, you need to pitch your goals and aspirations to people to explain what you want to do and how you’re going to make it happen — succinctly and quickly.
So, how do you get your pitch to be absolutely perfect? You have to craft it carefully, and you have to practice it. Here are some tips on creating your pitch, then practicing it to perfection:
1a. Write down every single thing you want to say
I’m so surprised by the amount of people who just blurt out their ideas in front of influential people. For most, when a pitch isn’t rehearsed or said on the fly, it comes out sounding extremely unprofessional; the only time you should give a pitch without knowing what you’re going to say before-hand is when you have a chance meeting with someone you know you won’t be able to schedule a real meeting with. Otherwise, write it down, scrutinize every word and make sure your message is clear and concise before you start saying it aloud.
1b. What should I say in my pitch?
That depends on which company/person you’re pitching to. For example, say you’re going to be pitching your skills, experiences, and passions in interviews with both AOL and Make Meaning. Your pitch for AOL should include your love of digital media and social content, whereas your pitch for Make Meaning should definitely say something about a love of crafts and party planning. Research whomever you’re pitching to thoroughly, and write your pitch specifically for them.
2. Practice in front of a mirror
Lock yourself in your room or bathroom and practice your pitch while looking in a mirror. Go through your entire pitch; listen to how you sound saying each word, and decide where to place appropriate inflections. Also look at your body language and facial expressions. Keep your eyes open and smile. Try to keep your body still, but not stiff (you’ll know if your stiff if your knees lock. You’ll want to move a little bit, just not too much.) You can gesticulate (use your arms and hands to “talk”), but don’t fidget (twirl your fingers, play with your hair, adjust your clothes, etc.) And don’t forget to keep eye contact with yourself.
3. Practice in front of your friends/ family
Practicing in front of a mirror is really helpful, but when it’s just you there, you may miss some things that need to be changed. Practice in front of an honest friend or family member (preferably one who is in the same or similar field you’re in.) Go through your entire pitch twice before taking suggestions; give your practice partner your written pitch and have them read along the first time through. Then have your practice partner note your stance, eye contact, and whether you hit all of the points in your pitch. If there are some things that need to be changed, do the entire pitch again. You can never practice too many times.
Even if you practice everyday, you’ll probably still be a little nervous when it comes time for the actual presentation. But, a serious case of the jitters will definitely turn off your audience.
Here are some great ways to calm your nerves before your pitch:
-Breathe. Take in a long breath, and hold it for ten seconds. Then, let it out as slowly as you can. Do this two or three times. The deep breathing will calm your heart rate and allow you to de-stress (fun fact, this technique will also stop your hiccups.)
-Eat something with peppermint. Peppermint relieves headaches and naturally reduces symptoms associated with nerves (sweating, tremors, etc.) Keep some Tic-Tacs, Altoids, or Wintergreen Lifesavers on you and eat one a few minutes before your interview. If you’d rather stay-all natural, mint leaves can be purchased at most grocery stores; bonus, the leaves will keep your breath fresh for quite a long time, whereas the candy will only keep your breath minty for a few minutes. Another alternative is a Migrastick, a roller containing peppermint and other essential oils. I’ve used these for years, and they’ve never failed to calm me or get rid of any headaches.
-Sing or hum to yourself. Pick your favorite tune and sing it quietly to yourself before pitch time comes. Go into the bathroom if you don’t want anyone to hear you and just sing the whole thing; you’ll feel instantly better hearing something familiar.
If you’d like to practice your pitching skills, join us for one of our upcoming events.
Do you have any tips for creating and giving the perfect pitch? Let us know in the comments.