Creating a Convincing Pitch When You’re in a Time Crunch

Leading Choices leadership career newsletter create pitch

If you’ve ever been in a situation where you have to create a presentation or pitch, and you’re short on time, you know how stressful it can be. You might feel like you’re running out of time to put together a strong argument or like you don’t have enough information to make your case.

However, with a few tips and some practice, you can give a convincing pitch even when you’re under pressure. In this blog post, I’ll outline some ways to make the most of your time and prepare for showtime.

1 – Leading Thought

The ability to create a believable, personalized story is what makes it possible for us to convince people when we don't have enough time. Click To Tweet

When we’re pitching an idea in business, we can’t expect to win people over with raw data or a list of bullet points. We need persuasive storytelling and emotional buy-in. The ability to create a believable, personalized story makes it possible for us to convince people when we don’t have enough time.

Some might argue that pitches are more important in some sectors than others. For example, the advertising sector is known for its powerful, persuasive language. A strong pitch can convince millions of people to buy a product they didn’t know they wanted until they heard about it.

But even outside of the advertising industry, pitches play an integral role in our ability to move forward with a project, mobilize teams or convince an audience of the importance of a matter to rally support or enable decisions.

create a pitch in a time crunch - speaker image

2 – How to be Better at Creating a Convincing Pitch

When you have to quickly piece together a persuasive pitch or presentation, keep these strategies in mind:

1. Understand your audience

2. Craft a strong opening line

3. Create powerful storytelling techniques (and keep it personal)

4. Know your “call to action”

Understand Your Audience Before You Create Your Pitch

Many of us believe that the most optimal way to prepare for any presentation or pitch is to write out our ideas and gather as much data as possible. But be careful – this strategy might do more harm than good when you’re in a time crunch. This is because if you try to cram too many ideas into your presentation, you’ll end up overwhelming your audience with information.

Instead of including every detail from start to finish, focus on incorporating only the essential elements. You can also include a few suggestions for plans or other value you could provide if given the opportunity.

The approach I suggest in part three below sounds counterintuitive, but it helps you to focus on the core message – without the fluff. Another advantage to this change in approach is that you don’t waste time on research that you won’t use in your deck.

I have observed a common phenomenon: once we find interesting information, we want to use it, even if it doesn’t serve the purpose of a presentation. Reversing your approach will make it easier to decide what will need to be included.  

Craft a Strong Opening Line

When we’re in a rush, it’s easy to fall into the trap of beginning our pitches by stating what everyone already knows. Saying something like “I am here to talk about XYZ” is stating the obvious. This is not engaging or igniting interest.

Instead, try to start by mentioning the problem you’re going to solve together. Or lead with a thought-provoking question.

Create Powerful Storytelling Techniques (and Keep it Personal)

A narrative can help you engage your audience and convince them why they should listen to what you have to say. But when we’re under pressure, it can be challenging to find the time or clarity of mind to develop a narrative.

To ensure that your storytelling is compelling, spend more time thinking about your audience, the challenge you’re addressing, and what response you want to prompt. My challenge in part three gives you prompts to guide you through this part.

Next, create a shortcut to practicing your pitch. Write out a rough version using the mind mapping technique. You can do that anywhere, even on a napkin. I recommend memorizing the story-flow, headline-style. Think like a newspaper. Big headlines. The details are your talking points. What you need are only the headlines as prompts to know what part is next. This will help you to keep eye contact with your audience and create a nice, natural speech that doesn’t sound mechanical.

If you have a speech to prepare that requires less presentation and more articulation, write out your speech in short sentences. Use roughly ten words per sentence. Then transfer your speech to a teleprompter app and practice using your mobile phone. You can do this anywhere.

By the time you have practiced with your teleprompter a few times, you will have internalized most of your speech by simply reading from the screen! The beautiful advantage of this method is that you simultaneously get to watch yourself on camera and can improve your presence.

Know Your “Call to Action” (CTA)

One of the most essential elements to include in your pitch is a clear description of what you want the audience to do. Do you need to rally support for a matter? Do you request funding or approval of a project? Make sure every point you’ve made in your story leading up to your CTA is compelling enough to take this next step. Make your ask clear to the audience, e.g., “We need a decision by Wednesday.

The Four Pillars of Persuasion

Understanding how to create persuasive pitches means having an in-depth knowledge of social sciences. Although there are many options for studying this topic, one of the most effective is learning about critical elements within psychology and cognitive science that influence our ability to persuade others.

In fact, according to research from neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, four key pillars influence a person’s ability to have their ideas accepted by others:

1. Mimicry/Mirroring

This is also known as “mirror neurons,” which are responsible for helping us to understand the emotions of others. When we mirror someone’s emotional state, they subconsciously trust us more and are more likely to see our perspective.

2. Concentration

It can be hard to concentrate on what other people are saying when you’re under stress or distracted by other tasks. However, focusing on what your audience is saying and selectively ignoring everything else helps them to feel like you’re paying attention and that you care about what they have to say.

3. Empathy

It’s difficult for us to listen to another person’s perspective if we don’t understand where they’re coming from. Before you attempt persuasion, invest in understanding what your audience needs and what can influence their perspective.

4. Storytelling

Stories are a powerful way to relay ideas because they allow us to reference past experiences and learn from others. The brain enjoys stories, so if you can frame your pitch as a personal narrative or another person’s relatable story, you’ll draw attention.

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with each of these pillars. Think of ways you can build them into each pitch you create.

3 – Way to Grow: Improve Your Time-to-Pitch-Creation Ratio

You don’t want to rush through your pitch. Spend some time reflecting on who will be listening. Think about the questions your audience will have and what their needs are, then use that information in your presentation.

This approach may initially seem to slow you down, but it’ll pay off when you present and speed up the process of creating a great pitch that resonates with your audience.

Here’s a challenge:

For your next presentation, do not open your laptop. Turn your devices off. Then jot down:

  • Who’s my audience?
  • What questions will they have?
  • What is my ask? What action or decision do I need to prompt as a result of my presentation? Is it an approval to move forward with a project? Is it funding? Do I want to rally support for a critical matter that requires an understanding of its importance or urgency?
  • What is the reason for my presentation?
  • What is the core message in 3-5 sentences?
  • What do I need to support each statement in my core message?
    • What facts do I need to provide?
    • How is the information best visualized?
    • Do I really need a slide for this?
  • Sketch the slides as simple as possible on a piece of paper:
    • Topic / Statement you make (or prompt)
    • Visualization supporting your message

This will only seem to slow you down. The more you do it, the faster you will get. The beauty of this is, that it will improve your presentation by forcing you to think about what you really need to resonate and convince, be understood, and memorable.

Encyclopedic slide decks with lots of text don’t resonate. They only help you lose your audience in record time.

You’ll see that you can create a pitch deck much faster after you have done the thought-work exercise above because contemplation like this gives you clarity of vision and helps you to focus. What seems like a slowdown will end up improving your productivity. Give it a try.

LC#018

Leading Choices covers three parts in each edition: 
 
1    A key insight
2    A Choice
3    An Action or Resources

Zaradigm is an affiliate: When you decide to purchase items that were referred on this page via an affiliate link, we may earn a small commission.