This is the fifth article in the series of six for students who want to be better at pitching their ideas.
The last three articles about storytelling, props and the use of dialogue were about what you could do to mesmerize the audience through using certain means. These techniques require a great deal of practice to master and is probably something you try out if you are at peace with standing in front of a crowd.
But what if you are anxious to death? What if you are being so nervous, that you find yourself in a deadlock each time you stand in front of a crowd, that your tongue feels like a baked potato, and you really just want to sink through the floorboards? In this case, it might be hard for you to handle doing “the greatest show ever”. To some, a pitch is about a certain amount of damage control. It is nice to know, then, what you can do to avoid your pitch being a decidedly bad experience to the audience.
Take it easy. Being nervous is normal
Maybe you can calm yourself by the thought of not being alone with your nervousness. All people that step on onto a stage is nervous, or at least a bit tense. And tension is a good thing, in the right amounts. It helps you get ready to perform. And when you go on stage to meet your audience, in fact, it is not only you who are a little bit nervous. The audience is excited too.
Be your own Superman
A good way of thinking about the audience is to look at them as being a mirror, that can help you get rid of your nervosity. They are rather your allies, that wants the best for you, than enemies, that are just waiting for you to make mistakes and laugh about it. When you stand in front of the audience, your own attitude is mirrored in them. If you are showing, that you are nervous, the audience becomes insecure and loses focus. You lose authority, they lose interest.
Even though you are nervous, it’s about not showing it – both for the sake of the audience, but especially for yourself. That’s why you have to try and trick yourself. But if you are extremely nervous, you should tell the audience that, before you start. A “Wow, I’m really nervous, so please bear with me” can help both you and the audience to understand why the pitch might be a little shaky.
But if you aren’t about to run away, then think about it as if you are playing a role, where you aren’t nervous. The character doing the pitch is confident in a way, where he steps to the front of the stage, instead of having his back glued to the blackboard, the keeps eye contact, instead of keeping his arms crossed and stare into the ground. The character speaks up and smiles. When the audience is calmed by your attitude, they mirror you by smiling and staying interested, which in return helps your nervousness disappearing.
The best thing you can do to help yourself get rid of your nervousness is to know your content really well. Rehearse it as much as possible. For that we have made an online pitch training-tool, that can help you in that part of the process. You can try it for free right here.