Even the most charismatic salesperson doesn’t naturally have a talent for pitching. Pitches that leave a lasting impression take preparation and practice; this article will help you with the former, the preparation.
When preparing your pitch, you will probably have a list of themes that you want to cover. This is where the structure is crucial; it can make the difference between your pitch being a well-told story or a badly written pantomime.
A fishbone diagram is a great way to put some structure behind your ideas and prevent your pitch from going off-course. It will keep you on point and ensure you don’t forget key pieces of information.
- Starting with the ‘tail’ of the ‘fish’, briefly summarise your opening line and introduction. The opening of your pitch is your opportunity to present your angle and catch your audience’s attention.
- Write your conclusion at the ‘head’ of the ‘fish’ so that you are clear where you are trying to get to. Whilst you may not know exactly what your closing statement will be, it is best to put your initial thoughts down and then adapt it as the pitch develops.
- You are now ready to tackle the body of your pitch. Outline each of your key themes as ‘bones’ coming off of the spine and adjust the order to suit your preferred path. Think of your diagram as a giant arrow; each component part of your pitch should lead to the conclusion. If it doesn’t, one of two things are happening; either you are drifting away from the point and are likely to lose your audience, or your conclusion needs to be adjusted to bring it into play.
You should always conduct a final review of the entire diagram to ensure it conveys the image you want your audience to see. Sometimes a slight change in the order can have a big impact on how the pitch is received.
Complex fishbone diagram
You can take the fishbone diagram a further step forward by breaking down each theme into even more detail.
Using the same approach, add secondary themes that inform your primary theme as ‘small bones’. If necessary, break your secondary themes down further into tertiary themes. This will allow you to map out your pitch in greater detail.
This approach very well suited to more complex pitches; especially where you might have a list of questions you are expected to answer through your presentation.
Once you have your completed structure, you can then pull together a script that threads each point together.
It is then over to you to practice the delivery. Some words of wisdom from Albert Einstein:
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” (Albert Einstein)