Learn to Pitch Like Mad Men’s Don Draper : Under30CEO Learn to Pitch Like Mad Men’s Don Draper : Under30CEO
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Learn to Pitch Like Mad Men’s Don Draper

| May 25, 2013 | 9 Comments

don-draperYou are busy. I am busy. Everybody is. Let me tell you why you should spent the next five minutes reading me. I have pitched to friends, family, investors, partners, consumers, at competitions and events, presented various works at middle-school, high-school and college, preached at multiple church services, bootcamps, sunday-school and real-time translated a dozen of preachers, and spoke at conferences in uni. From Portugal, to UK, to India, in different languages, from 90 seconds to 40 minutes, 5 people-crowd to 600, multiple messages and backgrounds, I have done it all. And I am only 21. If there is something I am good at, it is playing tennis, but I am not bad pitching either. If you want to be better than Don Draper, read the following lines.

People love stories.

When you pitch, is important that you understand you are a person talking to other people. It is a conversation. Between people. Real people. You are not a machine talking to an homogeneous non-feedback giving audience. Take that into account when pitching to anybody, anywhere.

a. Production

Before we focus on how, let us thing about what. Making a perfect pitch starts on the content, you have to know exactly what you want to say. Notice want instead of have to say. Research as much as you can on the subject, read and listen other pitchers, gather or produce as much information as you can. Write, imagine, create, do your homework! Just think: “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Matthew 12:34 KJV). 2000 years ago someone already knew this. You can only give what you have. Be full to give plenty!

– research. A lot
– write, imagine, create
– know want you want

b. Structure

At 10 years of age, you are taught the basic structure of any written or spoken document or intervention: introduction, development and conclusion. Some people tend to forget this rule, do not do the same on regular basis. There is a reason why most writers follow that rule since Ancient Greece. It is because it works. When preparing your pitch, clearly divide it in those 3 logical steps, it is easier for other people to follow, understand, agree and pose questions. Build it with an upward tendency (both in content and in form), where everything you add, comes on the sequence of what you previously stated and builds momentum to the. Ending! Endings make shows.

– introduction, development and conclusion
– upward tendency
– endings make shows

c. Rehearsal

If you have a time-constraint, after writing and creating the script (introduction, development and conclusion, please!), pitch it to yourself, measuring the time spent. Adjust until you get the speech to fill the time you need, and then forget the stopwatch. When you feel what you want to say, keep saying it in your mind throughout the day: shower, public transportation, boring classes, alone-meals, are perfect places to do just that. Remember Eminem in 8 Mile? That is about all the training you will need.

– adjust until get it
– feel it
– Eminem it. It.

People love story-tellers.

After creating your story, it is about you. The story-teller. “80% of success is showing up”. Woody Allen knows it. You should do, too. People like people. That is just how we are.

d. First

Do you know how many seconds it takes to get a first impression? 7. S-e-v-e-n. Seconds. Reread the first 7 seconds of this article. Yes, it was planned. Do not over-think nor plan this, just be yourself. Quick tip: always, and I mean always, take 5 seconds to focus before every pitch. Always. 5 seconds to you. Just you.

– 7 seconds
– be yourself
– 5 seconds

e. Engage

Not as offering an engagement ring, you should leave that to your beloved oness (feminine of one). Smile, a lot. Be welcoming, present yourself. “Hello, my name is Francisco and I am 21″, no need to go through your resume. Use the “z” vision, speak up, be confident. Feel great, you are getting everyone’s attention! Embrace it and learn to enjoy it. Oh, I almost forgot: dress accordingly. Key word: accordingly.

– introduce yourself
– “z” vision
– enjoy it

f. Perform

As taught in Titanic, “the show must go on”. This is an important lesson. You are being given an opportunity to be listened. Use it. If you forget what you wanted to say do not panic. I repeat. Do not panic. Nor freestyle it. Say what you do remember and finish earlier! Do not improvise, leave that to rappers. Being nervous is challenging. Being able to overcome it is… fill that space when you make it. For more on fear, listen to “Hello Fear” by Kirk Franklin.

- Titanic
- do not freestyle
- overcome fear

Be the story-teller who tells great stories (sometimes, stories hard for people to hear). Do not settle for easy-to-listen stories, yet build a strong one and tell it as you are supposed to. May you feel the joy of changing people’s life and thoughts through something you say.

This is what you are up against. Be better. http://youtu.be/iTJrNHdzm0k

These six points account as intangible know-how to pitch perfectly. If you need help on a specific pitch (e.g. investors on your startup or final report presentation) comment below or tweet me.

Francisco Cabral is a co-founder of the Lisbon-based location-based social network startup hinow.pt and a student of Economics at NOVA School of Business & Economics. You can follow him on Twitter @francicocabral

Image Credit: Moviecitynews.com 

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Category: Entrepreneurship, Startup Advice

  • Daniel

    It was amazing!
    Told us the simple things that people forget.
    Nice to meet you.

  • Tina

    Hi,Francisco! This was truly inspiring to read. One question, how do you build your confidence to speak out with a loud voice? Im afraid that my voice weaken because I loose my confidence when I get selfconsious. Do you have any techniques you can share (to boost and maintain the confidence)?

  • Francisco Cabral

    Hi Tina! Thank you very much. That is a very good question, one that I posed myself a lot of times. Simply put: baby steps. It will be a indeed challenging path, but in each step you take, you will feel closer to your target.
    - Level 1: start with your closer friends. We are afraid to expose ourselves to other’s judgement. So, start exposing to the ones who love you. Really, it is a confidence booster!
    - Level 2: proceed to ‘bigger’ challenges. Start pitching to other people (e.g. colleagues, elder family, neighbors, church friends), this will expose you to more critical opinions. Learn to cherish critics. You will grow!
    - Next levels are up to you to write!
    I have walked this levels, and believe me, it is rewarding. Be eager to hear bad things, critics and suggestions, it is the fastest way to become better! Wish you best of luck!

  • Francisco Cabral

    Nice to meet you! Really thankful for the feedback.

  • http://www.it-sales-leads.com/ Barbara Mckinney

    Nice piece. It’s great to know and memorize first all the details of your pitching topic before showing up to the public. Do story telling with your heart, remember what you are building is a relationship and risking of reputation, so beware of your attitude.

  • Tina

    Thank you so much for your answer! Practice will take me there hopefully:-) But have you ever experienced standing in front of an audience talking and suddenly feeling your selfesteem drop? Any tips for what to do “in that moment” to boost yourself up again? So that its not to obvious to the audience that you are struggeling:-)

  • Francisco Cabral

    Sorry for taking so long. Freezing is challenging but beatable! My strategy is those ’5 second’ I take (see d. First). For me it is a small prayer, a mindset-humour-mood-changing moment. I get into ‘pitch mode’. It is really helpful, as it will prevent you from freezing. Good luck!

  • pou

    Speaking slowly helps a lot.

  • Richard Jean

    Excellent article. Combine them with these things to learn from Don Draper http://quotivee.com/2013/articles/15-things-to-learn-from-don-draper-of-mad-men/