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Persuading your interlocutor in 40s when they don’t know you!

Mickaël Hiver
Mickaël Hiver
Revenue Manager Europe & Asia

techinnov_2012-ssii-pentalog1-300x107During TechInnov tradeshow in Orly-Sud, I attended a workshop on the concept of “Pitch”. A Pitch in the US represents a very short time to persuade someone, which corresponds to the time to go from the ground floor to the 20th floor taking the elevator. This is essential in the US in order to be able to proceed to the next stage, i.e. a longer meeting over coffee.When I say very short, I mean between 40s to 2m30 and no more. 40s for the networking, 1min to 2min30 for catching one’s attention and 10min for an investor.Summarizing all the information about your company in such a short time is very difficult for Europeans. Thus, you have to go to the core, adapt to your interlocutor and to their interests. So, if you don’t know them, ask them questions, let them speak and then adapt your speech.Don’t bother starting by introducing yourself. Just go directly to the point and state the target of your meeting, explain why you/your company is the best in achieving this target. If your interlocutor starts nodding his head occasionally, you won them over! Then they will ask you for your name and your business card . So, don’t ever forget to carry one with you.Americans practice the pitch all the time. Their attitude is always positive. Therefore, do not use any negative or pessimistic phrase. This may seem a tad deceitful, but this allows them to be energetic and open.Here are a few advices for preparing your pitch concerning the voice, the visual and the words! All the non verbal aspects have an impact of 93% in the message to be conveyed: 55% for the visual, 38% for the tone and only 7% for the text. Thus, you have to prepare your discourse. English people use 150 words per minute, French people 250, while Spanish people use 300. Therefore, you must talk at a slower pace, and do not hesitate to repeat 3 times the main points that you want to convey as it is the first time that the others hear them.If you have to talk in English with an American, don’t be afraid of making grammar mistakes, they are used to it.Facts and logic do not play the most important roles in decision making. It is the emotion that plays a major role. In order to generate the positive emotion in your interlocutor, use analogies instead of simple facts or statistics .A few essential elements to observe during a pitch, especially if you use a support during your pitch such as paper, power-point, video etc.:

  • Not too much information: if you present a content of more than 75 words, your interlocutor cannot pay attention any more as it is impossible for them to read and listen in the same time. You can consider giving them a hand-out after the pitch.
  • Be attentive to the format: a visual or a diagram means 65% chances to remember a message, while bullet points means only 10%.
  • Make a conversation, not a presentation: you have to enter the universe of your audience. Examine the audience that will hear you: WIIFY (What’s In It For You?).
  • Convey emotion: talk about your vision and your objective, therefore about the idea and the strategy to make it happen.
  • Catchline – this is an opening technique, which could contain statistics, history of a user’s profile in a given situation…. Do not start by “Good afternoon” or “My name is” as your interlocutor doesn’t care! You must succeed in catching your interlocutor’s attention before giving your name. Don’t worry, they will ask you for your business card at the end of the pitch, which will show you that they are interested.
  • Have a specific objective: you have to clearly state why you are making that pitch. “Call to attention”: why I am talking to your and for which purpose.
  • Have key messages: avoid the clichés/commonplace words.
  • Give concrete examples: why we are the best.
  • Explain the advantages for “the client”.
  • Take away message: finish on the main points to remember, a kind of summary.

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