Why is this important?
When you make a pitch, your message is comprised of three elements:
- Body language
All three elements need to say the same thing to convey a clear meaning. People most often go wrong when their words say one thing, but their voice and body don’t match those words. When this happens people get a mixed message. Your impact is often influenced more by voice and body language than your words . Therefore it is very important to align all three elements to get your ideas across with impact.
These 5 tips will help you to create maximum impact to persuade people of your ideas.
1. Use the ‘magic structure’: Why? What? How? What if? When planning the words to say, use this easy-to-follow structure:
- Why? Give your audience reasons to listen. Get them curious.
- What? Introduce your idea or key message.
- How? Explain how it works. Give examples and evidence.
- What if? Highlight potential problems and how to deal with them.
- What if? Ask for your call-to-action and summarise the benefits of taking that action.
These are the four key questions on the minds of any audience. They are the basis of ‘The 4 Mat System’ developed by Bernice McCarthy.
2. Make your voice easy to listen to
- Speak slower: Most people need to speak more slowly than they think they do. If you speak at too quickly people may not catch what you said.
- Vary the pace: Although you need to generally speak slower than usual, speed up occasionally to add excitement and slow down even more when you want to be more serious.
- Use extra emphasis and pauses for key points: Put extra emphasis in your voice to ‘land’ important messages. A dramatic pause gives an audience a chance to absorb your message and reflect on it.
3. Use gestures to show what you mean
- Use your hands as you would naturally: Just let your hands move as you would in normal conversation.
- Paint pictures with gestures: People will find you easier to understand when you use gestures. Let your gestures paint pictures. You can describe size, movement, shape and much more.
- Be clear and deliberate: Don’t make really fast gestures or flit about. Instead use firm and clear gestures.
4. Make eye contact with people in your audience
- Make eye contact with each person: If the size of the audience permits, make direct eye contact with everyone.
- Move eye contact randomly: Rather than using an ordered sequence such as left to right across a row of people, make eye contact randomly and this will look natural.
- If the audience is too big to look at people individually: Mentally divide the audience into groups. Look at someone in one of the groups and then the whole group will feel as if you are looking at them. Move around groups to cover the whole audience. Then just look individually at people if they are near to you.
5. Stand upright and in a confident posture
- Feet hip-width apart: with toes pointing slightly outwards. This gives a solid base. Stay still unless you have a reason to move.
- Keep legs straight: avoid leaning to one side or changing weight from one leg to another.
- Hold your head up: confidently and look at the audience.
Top tips for pitching online e.g. on Zoom
- Stand up for extra impact – just as you would in face-to-face presentations: You will look and feel more confident. Raise the level of your computer to have your webcam at eye level . If you have to sit, then sit upright on edge of the seat.
- Slow down but raise your energy: You have less impact when seen online than face-to -face. You can compensate for this by lifting your energy but also taking care to be more deliberate and slower in your voice.
- Frame yourself in the camera so hand gestures can be seen: When the audience can see your hand gestures they will understand you easier. You will also flow better when you use gestures.
About the author
Graham is a speaker and speaker coach, best known for his ability to convey ideas with a sketch. His talk at TEDx Hull has been viewed by 37 million people and he has appeared on television and radio.
His book, ‘The Art of Business Communication’ was shortlisted for the Chartered Management Institute’s Management Book of the Year 2016.
His latest book ‘The Speaker’s Coach’ won a Highly Commended award in the Business Book Awards 2020. It was listed in CEO Magazine’s ‘Ten Most Inspirational Business Books for 2020.’
Books by Graham Shaw
‘The Speaker’s Coach’ – 60 secrets to make your talk, speech, or presentation amazing
‘The Art of Business Communication’ – How to use pictures, charts, and graphics to make your ideas stick!
This content has been created by authors in their personal capacity. Any views, thoughts and opinions expressed belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Pearson.