This is the fourth article in the series of six for students who want to make an interesting pitch.
In the last couple of articles, I have written about how to mesmerize your audience. Another way to ensure that they don’t fall asleep on their chairs is to activate them. Instead of looking at your pitch as a monologue, a place where you are only sharing your information and knowledge, you could invite them to elaborate on your interesting thoughts by opening up a dialogue.
How you activate the audience through dialogue!
The most obvious way to make your pitch into an interesting dialogue is by explicitly ask the audience questions. It isn’t the point to go interviewing each and every person in the audience, by asking deep questions that will take too long to think about and answer. The questions should be easy, inviting them to answer by a yes or a no or by show of hands. The reason, to not ask them questions that are too hard during your pitch, demanding a longer answer, is, that your pitch is a very focused tool and could slide in time or tension if you let others talk too much.
An example of this could be: “First up, by a show of hands, how many of you have once woken up to your bike stolen? A lot, I see…”
How you get the audience to talk after the pitch
However, you are very interested in getting the audience to talk. But the deeper talk is more appropriate after the pitch has ended. That’s why you ask the more heavy questions as you finish your pitch, so they know that you are welcoming a conversation at that point.
Another way to get the dialogue going is to get the audience to ask the questions in the first place. It may sound more difficult, than it is, really. While your pitch is done within a tight time frame, it makes it nearly impossible to exhaust every part, you want to talk about. Instead, you create strategic spaces, that the audience will want to ask you to elaborate on, from natural interest. Emphasize from the start, that you are answering questions when you are done talking so that the pitch doesn’t lose focus by people interrupting with their questions.
Prepare for questions
When you are arranging for a dialogue, you expect the audience to ask you questions about certain things, you have said (or omitted to tell in the first place). That’s why it is also important to be prepared for the questions, that will come.
A good thing to do, to get ready and not look underprepared on stage, is to write down at least five of the questions you expect and the answers for them.
About dialogue in the classroom
It will often occur, that the idea you have, or the product you want to “sell” doesn’t click with the audience since you are rehearsing your pitch to your class and not the actual intended end users. Your co-students could, for example, have trouble following, how great your invention of the diaper that makes sounds when it needs changing, is.
A good advice to maximize what you get out of the rehearsal is to ask your audience of co-students to imagine themselves as playing a certain role; in the case of the diaper, they play the role of being mothers or such.