Pitching Part 2: How To Be Confident!

by / ⠀Blog Startup Advice / February 23, 2012

I really like demonstrating through example’s rather than just saying do X and X and you’ll win. I like providing some background. When you tell someone to do something, 50/50 they’ll do it. When you give people a compelling reason why they should do it, 100% they’ll do it.

Gaining confidence and getting over pitch anxiety seems like the question I should answer in this post. How do I get over being nervous? Or how do I give a pitch like I’m not nervous? The fact is, there is always that anxiety and nervousness. Even famous artists have anxiety. Heart’s pounding, adrenaline is rushing, anxiety is taking over as they’re walking on stage to perform…I am no means a pitch expert, but I do know a little bit and am constantly working at it. Writing about it also helps me improve in those areas while trying to help you guys out! The reason social things like this may scare us, is based on societal pressure and not enough exposure to it. What if they laugh at me? What if I fumble over my words? What if they laugh at me some more? What will people think of me? “I predict it’s going to turn out bad, I shouldn’t do it.” “It’s not normal for someone to do that.” “I’m not born with enough confidence like other people.” The list of excuses goes on and on. And your brain is great at presenting you with a plethora of excuses to choose from. Hm, I’ll pick this one…no, let me scroll through some more, no…nope not that one, nah…nope… Ah! Perfect, I’ll choose “I’m going to forget what I was pitching.” Perfect, now I don’t have to pitch! You do this because back in the cave man days, this fear would prevent you from doing things that would get you killed. But all you’re doing is talking to a group of people, or approaching a pretty girl you want to talk to. Think about it like this, when you give to charity do you ever think “What if they reject my donation? What if they laugh at me for not giving enough? What if people see me giving to charity?” Of course not.

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Getting over pitch anxiety, or approach anxiety can definitely be achieved through practice. The more you do it, the less nervous you feel about it and the more confidence you gain with it. Another thing I did was be silly. I went to the Apple store and said “Excuse me, I’m looking to buy an iPad 3.” And the guy was like “We don’t have iPad 3’s” so my response was “Oh, you guys sold out?” When I went to the gym I said to the guy at the desk “hey man, I don’t mean to be offensive” I gave him $2 and continued “But I’m going to buy a gatorade.” If you can break your comfort zone, do it. Keep pushing yourself. The impractical joker’s are the best at this!

It’s okay to take baby steps. If you push yourself into something you fear too quickly you’ll never want to do it again. The problem is you’re in a very shy or not out going mode, so you see yourself in this mode through a lens attempting be in confidence mode and failing. You need to get from shy, to less shy, to not so shy, to okay, to getting happier, to getting more confident, to being a little confident, to being confident, to being super confident. Anxiety can also occur when you’re in mode 1 and want to instantly be in mode 50. Go slowly from mode 1 – 50. Start by pitching to yourself, then pitch to one person..then pitch to two people, then pitch to three people, then four, then five, then 6, then go talk to strangers on the street. Do that alot!  Then pitch on stage, then pitch on stage again, etc. etc. And by then you’ll have gained the confidence to keep working at it but that doesn’t mean you won’t be nervous everytime. Anxiety may be something that never goes away. But you can reduce it. Ask for feedback every single time you make a pitch.

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And always implement the best feedback. You always learn best from your failures. When pitching, you also have to change your mentality. You may think “I need to sell this or people will think I’m a failure”, or “I better not mess up and look stupid” …You need to tell yourself, “these people are going to love hearing about my journey” or “these people are going to have a great time when they hear about my business” or “Everyone’s going to have a great laugh I can’t wait to entertain them!”  You must change your mentality because your will power will only be soo strong. Cut out the phony stuff, it’s okay to be vulnerable. And if anything, point out the elephant in the room, “Okay, this is my first pitch, bare with me with guys!” That will certainly lighten up the mood and you’ll feel less pressure to be perfect!

Confidence is not genetic, nor is it hereditary. Anyone can become Confident.

Stephen M. Levinson

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