You're not alone
In my experience, there are two types of performers:
- the confident type - an entrepreneur who truly believes he/she's got a great story and is willing to kick some ass on stage. The most common issue is that, full of adrenaline, he/she often speaks too fast and delivers a series of sentences instead of a shared experience.
- the self-conscious type - an entrepreneur who's not quite sure his/her speech is of great interest and is reluctant to go on stage. The issue is obviously that he/she will have trouble making an emotional connection with the people who came to listen.
Be your best self
Here are 3 pieces of advice to apply to both types:
- Know your audience
- Know yourself
- Run a crash test
Know Your Audience
Going on stage inevitably creates a rush of adrenaline. One of the solutions is to consider your audience as a friend, even an ally. Like I said in a previous post, it is crucial to be aware of who you will talk to. Whether the audience is your target or not, for instance, you want them to love your story. That's why you must create it especially for them.
Once you've got this customized story, before you get on stage, you should say to yourself: "I can't wait to share the vision I want them to be a part of." A coach once advised me to look at a few faces in the front row and to say to myself:
"I truly love you because I know you want my own good."
You may not believe it, but it's true: most people wish you well.
Most "experts" will advise you to be funny on stage. Making someone laugh is indeed a great way to create empathy. But not everybody is actually funny. Being scared to tell a good joke is the best way to NOT be funny. My advice is to know your strengths and to play with them. I'm the emotional type and I'm a dreamer. It's always been rewarding for me to share my true feelings. People respond to them very well because they can tell I'm being authentic with them. So do just that: go with you own style.
Run A Crash Test
Even if you run out of time before the pitch event, please make yourself a favor and practice your pitch in front of at least one person. You'll often realize that, despite your concentration, you can't remember a sentence or a whole paragraph. It could mean that they aren't written well enough or, worse, they are not useful.
Don't panic: check if the pitch still works without the sentence or the paragraph. If it doesn't, try another way to say it. With your own words. Be aware that, once you're on stage, the adrenaline rush will make it even harder to remember anything.
Even if you remember everything, make sure not to recite your text word for word. Because, again, if you lose your nerve on stage, you want to be able to remember the meaning of the pitch, not the words. When you practice, forget the text and use everyday language. It will sound more natural, which will make it easier for first-time listeners to get your bottom line.