• April 2015

The Business Pitch: Think of It Like an Audition

By Hilary Blair
CEO and Lead Coach
and Robin A. Miller, PhD
COO and Lead Coach

ARTiculate Real & Clear: Clear Communication Is an ART ARTiculateRC.com

Preparing to deliver a business pitch is similar to preparing for an audition — the key word being prepare. It can make the difference between nailing the part/getting new business, or blowing it.

For an acting gig, auditions are your opportunity to demonstrate that you’re the best actor for the part.

And, at an audition you may be called into a room do a monologue or read sides with another actor (or non-actor), and your performance may well be taped. Auditions are odd because the material you read may bear little resemblance to the actual acting gig.

Likewise, your skill at delivering a business pitch to a potential client rarely has anything to do with the business you are pitching. You will need to be ready with a pitch at networking events and casual interactions, as well as at competitions and meetings with your bankers or potential clients.

The bottom line: Think of your business pitch as if it were an audition for new business. This tested technique has helped many of our clients turn their businesses around. We think it can help you, too!

Scroll down for 4 ways you can learn what professional actors and performers know — and start applying them to your business performance today. And, be sure to pay close attention to our “7 Audition Absolutes.”

1. Know Your Audience

  • Acting Gig: Some auditions are run more effectively than others. The communication is better, the expectations are clearer. Especially when they’re not, you need to know your audience. Who you are auditioning for greatly affects both your preparation and execution — from finding material and what to wear, to the energy and attitude you bring to the room.
  • Business Pitch: Find out as much as you can about what your “audience” expects in terms of information from you about your business. Research your audience — know what they feel is necessary and what information they are expecting.

2. Be Ready and Open to Offering More

  • Acting Gig: Be ready with another monologue, to do some improv, or to read a scene with someone.
  • Business Pitch: Be ready to answer all kinds of detailed questions about your financing and your own investment in the business. What skin do you have in the game? You need to know your business inside and out.

3. Plant Seeds — Make Contacts

  • Acting Gig: Know that you may not be cast right now for this role, but if you still impress the casting directors, they will hold on to your resume and call you for another project and/or pass on your info to a colleague who has a project for which you are the perfect fit.
  • Business Pitch: Even if the potential client, customer, or investors don’t sign on right away, that doesn’t mean they won’t ever do business with you. They may need to learn more or they may have a colleague they want to check with first. Or they may get back in touch with you in the future.

4. Sometime the Problem Isn’t You!

Win the part or the pitch by doing extensive preparation through research, memorization, and even choosing your outfit. Research the companies or funders that will be at your presentation. Know exactly what they want in the pitch, and what they don’t want. Talk to people who have pitched to the same people to whom you will be pitching. Practice, prep, and get feedback — and adjust accordingly!

If you’ve done all that and still don’t win the role or the new business, don’t beat yourself up. It may not be because of anything you can control.

The particular mix of people in the room can change the whole outcome, for better or worse. Sometimes the people running the auditions are more generous and giving than others. The ability to audition others well is a special skill — can you see the potential, the fit, the skills that are there? When you’re on the receiving end of a pitch, can you create an environment that brings out the best?

And remember that if you don’t land the audition or this pitch doesn’t pay off, there is always the next one. With each audition or pitch, we are preparing, practicing, and moving closer to landing the business loan, support, and partners we need to grow to the next level.

7 Audition Absolutes:

  1. The audition or pitch bears little resemblance to the job that will follow if you get it.
  2. Auditions are their own art form and take dedicated practice to master — and ironically, some folks are better at auditioning than doing the gig itself.
  3. The person running the auditions needs to be skilled at knowing what they are looking for.
  4. In any audition or pitch, personality is as important as skill. Do you have the chops and are you right for the role? And do they think they can work with you?
  5. Do your prep and make it your own — the audition or pitch begins before you even get to the audition room or open your mouth.
  6. Show your passion, expertise, and commitment, all while listening to what is wanted in the moment.
  7. You win some, and you don’t really lose any, because each audition or pitch increases your experience and visibility, and often leads to something else.

Don’t stop now! Click here for a short video on how business people benefit by thinking of pitches like auditions.

And for more information from Hilary Blair and Robin Miller, visit www.articulaterc.com.

About Hilary Blair

CEO and lead coach for ARTiculate: Real & Clear, Hilary Blair, MFA, is an admitted breath snob. A presentation and speaking voice expert, Blair is a highly regarded coach and facilitator working extensively across the United States with businesses that include American Express, Janus Funds, Staples, Liberty Global, and Hunter Douglas. She uses her skills and experience as a stage, film, and voice-over actor, teacher, and voice coach to help people in a variety of positions, including entrepreneurs, CEOs, writers, and project managers — high achievers craving feedback in order to grow.

Her coaching is informed by what is unique and authentic in the individual or group. In addition, she facilitates workshops that use improvisation to improve leadership skills, team-building, and creativity. She is on the faculty of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and has been adjunct faculty for a number of universities. An active member of Toastmasters and a board member of VASTA — the Voice and Speech Trainers Association — she holds an MFA in acting from the National Theatre Conservatory and a BA from Yale University.

About Robin A. Miller

Robin Miller is an energetic, motivational keynote speaker who has also spent more than 20 years in teaching, training, and coaching. Her specialty is in guiding the well-thought individual to become confidently well-spoken in settings such as interviews, meetings, and keynotes. Her clients include Coors, the University of Denver, and Sterisil.

She has performed vocally and conducted numerous musical groups throughout her career, as well as taught music at Baylor University, the University of North Texas, and Texas Christian University. Her expertise in navigating customer communication derives from her experience as a customer relationship manager in the financial industry, and as a development specialist in some of Denver’s leading Level 1 trauma centers, as well as her advanced training in mediation and crucial conversations. She earned an MM in music from Baylor University, a PhD in Musicology from the University of North Texas, and a MDiv from the Iliff School of Theology.

Blair and Miller acknowledge the amazing voice teachers with whom they have had the privilege of working: Chuck Jones, Rocco Dal Vera, Gary Logan, Patsy Rodenburg, Catherine Fitzmaurice, and Kristen Linklater, to name a few.

For more information, visit ARTiculate Real & Clear: Clear Communication Is an Art, at ARTiculateRC.com