We all get nervous delivering presentations, and an investment pitch is no different for any social entrepreneur.
We’ve all been told to “imagine the crowd naked” as a way tackle nerves when it comes to public speaking, but here are 4 more practical and less thought intrusive ways to settle your nerves during an investment pitch.
1. Try and tackle that anticipatory anxiety
More often than not, the more extreme bouts of anxiety come from simply anticipating the event about which you’re nervous.
Some social entrepreneurs spend days or even weeks before an investment pitch worrying about all of the things that could go wrong.
Cognitive behavioural therapists recommend tackling anticipatory anxiety by blocking out worrying thoughts. And there are two recommended ways of doing this.
Firstly, imagine your worrying thoughts as a train, and instead of stepping onto the train, visualise it passing you by. If you do this every time you think about the pitch, your anticipatory nerves should reduce, allowing you to go into the pitch feeling a lot calmer.
Secondly, therapists say that anxiety and excitement release the same chemical in our bodies – adrenaline. When you feel adrenaline building, convince yourself how excited you are to deliver that investment pitch; you want them to invest in your social enterprise!
Changing how you think beforehand is a huge step in tackling the nerves during any investment pitch.
2. Be prepared to deliver the pitch
A good way to settle nerves during your investment pitch is to be completely prepared going into it. Whatever your style, ensuring you have practiced your pitch enough so that it’s engraved into your memory will make the delivery far better (and calmer!).
Keep your notes as short bullet points or paragraphs and make use of word processing format tools to make your notes clear and easy to follow. If your mind does happen to go blank during your pitch, having a clear structure to glance at will help you get back on track with no stumbling.
3. Arrive early
While arriving early can sometimes lead to anxiety because of those naughty anticipatory thoughts, there are plenty of reasons to get to the pitch location ahead of time.
Firstly, you can begin to adjust to the surroundings. Knowing the room layout can kill worrisome thoughts and visualisations of things going wrong, allowing you instead to become familiar with where you’ll deliver the pitch.
Secondly, it allows you to greet and speak to investors. Make sure you shake their hands, smile and make light conversation. This will help you become familiar with your investors and give them chance to warm to you before you take to the spotlight.
4. Focus on your pitch
Many public speaking experts would advise you to consider posture and communication with the audience during your pitch.
Moving around the front of the room and making good eye contact are perfect examples of this, but focusing on these techniques too much can simply lump more pressure on yourself and may distract you from the top priority, which is delivering your pitch!
Instead, you should focus your attention on presenting the content of your investment pitch, ensuring it’s clear and engaging. You can easily do this without overthinking how you might look or sound, and rest safe in the knowledge that your investors are interested in hearing your pitch.
Remember – being nervous before an investment pitch is totally normal. Remind yourself to enjoy the experience, rather than rushing through at breakneck speed. You’ve worked hard on this pitch, after all!
Finally, recognising and changing how you think prior to the investment pitch is a key way to ensure your nerves are settled – and practice always makes perfect. You’ll be a natural in no time!