Learn to Pitch Like Mad Men’s Don Draper



You are busy. I am busy. Everybody is. Let me tell you why you should spent the next five minutes reading me. I have pitched to friends, family, investors, partners, consumers, at competitions and events, presented various works at middle-school, high-school and college, preached at multiple church services, bootcamps, sunday-school and real-time translated a dozen of preachers, and spoke at conferences in uni. From Portugal, to UK, to India, in different languages, from 90 seconds to 40 minutes, 5 people-crowd to 600, multiple messages and backgrounds, I have done it all. And I am only 21. If there is something I am good at, it is playing tennis, but I am not bad pitching either. If you want to be better than Don Draper, read the following lines.

People love stories

When you pitch, is important that you understand you are a person talking to other people. It is a conversation. Between people. Real people. You are not a machine talking to a homogeneous non-feedback giving audience. Take that into account when pitching to anybody, anywhere.

  1. Production

Before we focus on how, let us thing about what. Making a perfect pitch starts on the content, you have to know exactly what you want to say. Notice want instead of have to say. Research as much as you can on the subject, read and listen other pitchers, gather or produce as much information as you can. Write, imagine, create, do your homework. Just think: “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Matthew 12:34 KJV). 2000 years ago someone already knew this. You can only give what you have. Be full to give plenty.

– research. A lot
– write, imagine, create
– know want you want

  1. Structure

At 10 years of age, you are taught the basic structure of any written or spoken document or intervention: introduction, development and conclusion. Some people tend to forget this rule, do not do the same on regular basis. There is a reason why most writers follow that rule since Ancient Greece. It is because it works. When preparing your pitch, clearly divide it in those 3 logical steps, it is easier for other people to follow, understand, agree and pose questions. Build it with an upward tendency, both in content and in form, where everything you add, comes on the sequence of what you previously stated and builds momentum to the. Ending! Endings make shows.

– introduction, development and conclusion
– upward tendency
– endings make shows

  1. Rehearsal

If you have a time-constraint, after writing and creating the script (introduction, development and conclusion), pitch it to yourself, measuring the time. Adjust until you get the speech to fill the time you need, and then forget the stopwatch. When you feel what you want to say, keep saying it in your mind throughout the day: shower, public transportation, boring classes, alone-meals, are perfect places to do just that. Remember Eminem in 8 Mile? That is about all the training you will need.

– adjust until get it
– feel it
– Eminem it. It.

People love story-tellers

After creating your story, it is about you. The story-teller. “80% of success is showing up”. Woody Allen knows it. You should do, too. People like people. That is just how we are.

  1. First

Do you know how many seconds it takes to get a first impression? 7. S-e-v-e-n. Seconds. Reread the first 7 seconds of this article. Yes, it was planned. Do not over-think nor plan this, just be yourself. Quick tip: always, and I mean always, take 5 seconds to focus before every pitch. Always. 5 seconds to you. Just you.

– 7 seconds
– be yourself
– 5 seconds

  1. Engage

Not as offering an engagement ring, you should leave that to your beloved oness (feminine of one). Smile, a lot. Be welcoming and present yourself. “Hello, my name is Francisco and I am 21″, no need to go through your resume. Use the “z” vision, speak up and be confident. Feel great, you are getting everyone’s attention! Embrace it and learn to enjoy it. Oh, I almost forgot: dress accordingly. Key word: accordingly.

– introduce yourself
– “z” vision
– enjoy it

  1. Perform

As taught in Titanic, “the show must go on”. This is an important lesson. You are being given an opportunity to be listened to. Use it. If you forget what you wanted to say do not panic. I repeat. Do not panic. Nor freestyle it. Say what you do remember and finish earlier. Do not improvise, leave that to rappers. Being nervous is challenging. Being able to overcome it is… fill that space when you make it. For more on fear, listen to “Hello Fear” by Kirk Franklin.

– Titanic
– do not freestyle
– overcome fear

Be the story-teller who tells great stories, sometimes, stories hard for people to hear. Do not settle for easy-to-listen stories, yet build a strong one and tell it as you are supposed to. May you feel the joy of changing people’s life and thoughts through something you say.

This is what you are up against. Be better. http://youtu.be/iTJrNHdzm0k.

These six points account as intangible know-how to pitch perfectly. If you need help on a specific pitch (e.g. investors on your startup or final report presentation) comment below or tweet me.

Francisco Cabral is a co-founder of the Lisbon-based location-based social network startup hinow.pt and a student of Economics at NOVA School of Business & Economics. You can follow him on Twitter @francicocabral

Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by amira_a

About the author: Under30CEO

Under30CEO is the leading media property for entrepreneurs, inspiring the world’s next generation of business leaders. Under30CEO features direct interviews with the most successful young people on the planet, profiles twenty-something startups, provides advice from those who have done it before, and publishes cutting edge news for the young entrepreneur.

You are seconds away from signing up for the hottest list in New York Tech!

Join the millions and keep up with the stories shaping entrepreneurship. Sign up today.