The Art of the Pitch

Tulsa Business Journal asked Kristen Bergman, founder of Atmos Strategic Communications LLC and an expert on the pitch, to answer a few questions on the subject.

Tulsa Business Journal: What is a pitch?
Kristen Bergman: A pitch is a very brief (30 seconds or fewer) talk about your business, brand and/or self.

TBJ: Why is it important?
KB: A pitch is important because it gives the listener a concise overview of the business or brand.

TBJ: What characteristics must a good pitch possess?
KB: A good pitch tells the story in a memorable and succinct way.
Pitching is just networking on steroids. We should all have a pitch about who we are as individuals and what we do in business. It makes meeting new people a whole lot more interesting.
TBJ: What are common mistakes people make in writing and delivering their pitches?
KB: People will often have a good overview, but they have not practiced the delivery, so it tends to ramble. Writing out the pitch and memorizing it for the same delivery each and every time is critical.

TBJ: To whom must entrepreneurs or business owners make their pitches?
KB: Anyone and everyone they meet. Practice makes perfect.
A pitch can be as simple as “Hello, my name is _____. My business is _____ and we do _____ for this industry, and we’re the best at what we do because of these reasons.”
Make it interesting and remember that the person listening is wondering, “What’s in this for me?”
A lot of times I will say, “You may know someone who is in need of my services/product, and I would be grateful for a referral.”

TBJ: What is the process one must go through in order to perfect his or her pitch?
KB: Practice, practice, practice.
TBJ: What advice do you give entrepreneurs? How do you coach them in perfecting their pitches?
KB: I am a big believer in videotaping delivery of the pitch so that the entrepreneur can see himself and his delivery as I see him.
When I coach, I make sure to show him a video of himself and ask what he sees that is good and what he thinks needs improvement.
Then I ask him to pitch me again right then and there. If he starts to stutter or stall, we work on body language, speech patterns and breathing.
Most people need several rounds of coaching to take in the advice and to incorporate it into their presentations, but it’s a very interactive process.

TBJ: What is the best pitch you’ve ever heard?
KB: A homeless woman in San Francisco once asked me for money by saying she had only $46, $832 away from her goal. I thought it was brilliant and gave her $5 and then asked a friend to pitch in, too.

TBJ: The worst?
KB: Anyone who can’t articulate what he is about in just a few sentences.

Kristen Bergman is founder of Atmos Strategic Communications LLC, an advertising, marketing and public relations firm in Tulsa.
Prior to forming her own agency, Bergman was the Global Advertising Sales Director for Cisco Systems’ iQ and Packet magazines for more than eight years and worked prior to that for a variety of small and large advertising and marketing firms in California, focusing primarily on account service, strategic planning and business development activities.
In addition to her business endeavors, Kristen is actively involved in the Tulsa community by serving with the following organizations:
Leadership Oklahoma, Resonance Center for Women, Sustainable Tulsa and the Tulsa Preservation Commission.

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