Takeaways from the “How to Pitch” workshop

Editor’s Note: On Wednesday, January 31st we had Omer Dor (BEng’12,) give a workshop on How To Pitch. Omer was the co-founder and CEO of a company called MobiCare which was successfully acquired. 

1. Tell a story

The science is in. Human beings respond to stories: there’s simply no method in the book that’s more engaging and evocative than storytelling when it comes to transmitting information. If you think about human history, reading and writing are fairly recent developments. But oral storytelling has existed for millennia beyond that. The format is not only fun, but helps people remember information better because data can be linked to emotions. In other words, people won’t remember what you tell them if they don’t care. Step 1 is to make them care. With a story.

2. Practice

A polished pitch only comes through refinement. You have to put in the work. Here’s a secret: very few people will do this, surprisingly. Even though everybody’s heard the advice before. Even though you don’t have to put in THAT many hours for effective practice. It’s just too uncomfortable for most people to psychologically deal with feedback and then implement improvements. But that’s a good thing. Because if YOU DO, you’ll be way ahead of everybody else with a little bit of smart, hard work. Practicing in front of the mirror, your friends & family, is good, and that’s common advice. Let’s take it a step further. Go pitch in front of someone who YOU THINK has a great pitch.

3. Hook the audience right away

You can have an incredible presentation with lots of data, high polish, and a confident demeanor. But if nobody’s paying attention, you don’t really have a pitch. A great presentation doesn’t need to have you convincing people that they should pay attention to you. In reality, it should be win-win: they should ENJOY your presentation, and come away from it intrigued. One way to do this is #1: inserting a compelling story right at the beginning of your pitch, and then weave it throughout your pitch in an integrated way. For examples on how you can do this, check out our video library of pitches. 

4. Use visuals.

When you put up a picture, people instantly shift away from listening to you, to looking at what’s on the screen. Beginners ignore this. Intermediates are aware of it. Advanced presenters USE IT TO THEIR ADVANTAGE. If you’re aware of how powerful visuals can be when it comes to attracting your audience’s attention, you know that you should always search long and hard for the MOST compelling visuals. Don’t settle for the first result on Google Images. Use a few different sources to look for it. Consider paying for premium stock photos. Ask around.

Dobson Chronicles

The Dobson Chronicles is the official blog of the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship.