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  • Meg

pitching pitching pitching

As promised, this week’s blog is all about pitching! I was fortunate to be coached by Mel Sherwood, a pitch and presentation expert, in advance of my pitch in September for A Cocktailer’s Guide to Surviving a Pandemic. My coaching was facilitated through the mentorship hours provided for those in the second stage of the Bruce Millar Graduate Fellowship application. Here are the top five things I am grateful I chose to do in advance of performing my pitch for the panel.

1. Making my pitch closer to the shorter side of the time limit.

My required time limit per the regulations was between five and ten minutes. I was encouraged by Mel to stick towards the five-to-seven-minute range. This would ensure that we could spend more time in a discussion about the show afterwards and provided the panel more opportunities to ask me questions.

2. My pitch consisted of summarizing all the required subjects included in the written portion.

Even though the panel likely would’ve read my application before the pitch, I wanted to be sure that I refreshed their memory on all the points included in my written application. It was hard to take 10 pages of text, plus several appendices, and put it into five minutes of speaking, but I think that distilling it down to the most important facts helped me to focus on the larger goals I had for the project.

3. Using the pitch as an opportunity to preview the show for the panel.

I decided to make a cocktail for my pitch and made each ingredient a different element of the story (for example, Gin was the inspiration for the story and the bitters was my budget). Not only did it make it more interesting than a simple PowerPoint presentation, but it supported the themes and style of my show and allowed me to showcase my story in a more genuine way.

4. Practice…a lot.

I flew back from a short stay in Canada and rehearsed my pitch under my breath in the airport lounge and on the airplane. Yes, I got a few stares, but I cared more about feeling confident in my words. And the two days leading up to the pitch, I practiced in my kitchen and my living room. It certainly started an interesting conversation when the electrician showed up to fix my stove at 9am and my kitchen was already filled with a martini glass, shaker and a generously filled bottle of Gin.

5. Leave them wanting more.

The only way a cocktail can be consumed is through a glass. At the end of my pitch, I didn’t pour the cocktail out of the shaker. I instead told the panel that they were my vessel; it was through their funding that the cocktail of my piece – my show – could be made. This garnered a few smiles and most importantly, finished my pitch by explaining why this grant, for me, was necessary to my story being told. Every good presentation deserves a button and engaging directly with the panel members at the end did the trick for me.

Pitching for any project is scary but knowing the project’s worth and being confident in the idea – what you know and don’t know about where it will end up – is crucial. Get support, practice a lot and at the end of the day, have confidence in the importance of your story. Happy pitching!


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