Pitch Yourself: How to present yourself convincingly
Chapter 9 from the CHANGE JOURNAL »
"Hello, my name is ... and ... um..." How many memorable pitches have you experienced over the past few months – or even your whole life? Why are some more inspiring than others? And what about your own pitches?
Sometimes we have to introduce ourselves to someone somewhere several times a day. Why is it so difficult for most of us to make a lasting and compelling impression? And why do we think we need to reinvent our own story from scratch every time? Specific aspects need to be put in a different order or emphasized somewhat differently; that depends on who we pitch to and our audience in each case. It also clearly depends on what we want to achieve with our pitch. And naturally, not every brief self-introduction should be repeated word for word at every new event.
In addition, there is a conflict between our desire to present ourselves self-confidently and the fact that we don't want to come across as a babbling braggart. Depending on the context, individual personality, and cultural background, most people feel more comfortable presenting audiences with a more reserved version of themselves: kinder, charming, and modest. Nevertheless, I suspect it rarely hurts to lay it on a little bit thicker – and consequently make a more profound and lasting impression. Modesty is too often misinterpreted as mediocrity – and who wants to be remembered as dull? Don't get me wrong: I wouldn't encourage anyone to lie! I intend to have you evaluate how you usually introduce yourself and how you could formulate it differently to spice up your image in the future.
As I said, it's often purely a matter of context. This is defined by the following key questions: Who are you addressing? What intention does this presentation have? How important is it to leave a positive and lasting impression? And what should people remember first when they think of you later? Are you preparing for a job interview? Are you introducing yourself at a networking event? Or are you just trying to improve your presentation strategy outside the intimate circle of family and friends?
"The more natural and concise the pitch, the more time invested in preparing it."
Either way, here are a few things that you might want to bear in mind:
Whenever you're at a private party, presenting yourself more modestly than at a networking event is undoubtedly more appropriate. Be aware that you do not have to carefully assemble a few choice sentences to win over anybody as a new customer or your own fan club president. Being liked is not achieved by systematically intimidating your dialogue partner. And you wouldn't want to scare away that new acquaintance due to a severe case of boasting either, right?
Try to imagine a first conversation as a game of ping-pong: Start with simple, brief sentences to which your counterpart can respond effortlessly. It is sometimes helpful to use familiar keywords for the person you are speaking with so that they can pick up on them to provide effortless replies. It could be about the event that you are both currently attending. To begin the conversation, it is usually easiest to rely on some questions that are easy to answer. A brief personal introduction might make sense in a private circle, supplemented with information on who invited you or why you are participating in the event. Ask a simple question about why your counterpart decided to attend the event or how/if they know the host personally.
In a more professional context, it might be wise to speak of the expectations that you associate with your event participation (workshop, conference, etc.). This makes it easy to initiate a casual dialogue, which requires significant effort from any participants. It is often an innocent subject to ask someone what they hope to gain from such an event. Not infrequently, the answer already contains references to the person's professional field or their specific job. It's also good to drop some helpful keywords here and there to help generate a more extended conversation and trigger questions from the other party. Depending on the type of event and your own goals, it is often beneficial to have prepared some "modules" that you would like to discuss.
Here are the basics:
Please compile all relevant information about yourself in the following templates. It isn't as trivial as it sounds! These pieces of information are initial components that you can build on later. Next, fill out the "Awesomeness list" with your personal strengths. This is where you compile all skills and abilities you think you can master. Then critically review that list with someone who knows you well. This will make your list somewhat leaner. Ultimately, the list should only include those things that you consider your true strengths – the ones that can be used in a brief self-presentation or a pitch.
Now that we've discussed the basics, we can make it more interesting:
1. Look at the questions in the templates on the following pages.
2. Adjust your presentation accordingly if you already know a few things about your conversation partner.
3. Try to see things from their perspective, and search for topics or catchwords that might make you more attractive or valuable from your counterpart's point of view.
With these templates in mind, you will have a selection of modules to tailor to any specific occasion or professional purpose!
And here's one final piece of advice: Once you've prepared your little self-presentation and theme modules, pitch them to yourself until it no longer feels artificial but fluent and natural. This will help you to believe in it yourself ... which is a determining factor if you want to convince others later. ;)