How to pitch

Danny Lowney suggests ways to pitch ideas with passion and purpose

Launching and running talent agency Sixteenth has helped Danny Lowney fine-tune his approach to pitching. 

Keep talking 

I’ve never taken on investment, so haven’t ‘pitched’ in the traditional sense, but I learned very quickly that every conversation becomes a pitch. This could be to a new client or just chatting to your mates – I actually found myself pitching to friends and family a lot in the early days, and it was a really valuable way to hone my ideas and convince myself I had a valid business on my hands. I’m a huge fan of throwing ideas around, and talking is a way of thinking actively. It forces me to consolidate my ideas.  

Think first 

I create space in my calendar by booking meetings with myself, and these need to be significant blocks of hours (or even days) at a time where I can properly think. Deep thought is so important and there is a lot of soul-searching, and you can uncover some big issues. If you make sure you have time to do this, then pitching your ideas naturally follows. 

Be your best self 

If I work out in the morning, then I’ll get a natural endorphin rush that gives me a different energy when I talk. Everyone has a routine that helps them get in the zone, and my recommendation is to keep your routine similar, even on big pitch days. I don’t have a special pitch outfit and I’ve actually had moments where I’m trying on a shirt and have to catch myself and think: ‘No, this isn’t me’. If you’re going into a situation where you're presenting yourself in an inauthentic way, then it’s probably a sign that it’s not the right conversation for you to be having. 

Choose the right environment 

Try to control the terms of engagement for the pitch as much as possible; if you can get it on home territory, then that’s ideal. For example, I know that I work well in busy cafés with a long black and loads of things going on around me, so if I can invite the person I’m pitching to for a coffee, then that’s great for me. However, if you know you’re someone who needs total silence to focus, make sure you’re not about to walk into a hectic situation. I know some people who like to pitch ideas while walking – it just depends on what works for you. 

Ask questions  

Don’t fool yourself into thinking you have all the answers – having the right questions is more important. I try to avoid the temptation to talk too much, and really force myself to ask questions beyond the normal small talk. Try to really understand the person that you’re pitching to before you launch in, uncover what their expectations are, why they’ve taken the meeting with you, and what they’re currently interested in. The more nuanced the questions, the better the conversation will be.  

Refine your pitch  

I tend to have my content about 80 per cent confirmed before going into a pitch; the last 20 per cent I base on what I learn about the person and their business in that first 10 minutes. You need to really appreciate the context of a pitch, and no two pitches should ever be the same.  

Be quiet 

I’ve been trying to practise silence recently, and it’s not easy. If you’re asked a challenging question, then the temptation is to give a knee-jerk response, but that’s where it can get dangerous. I now resist this temptation and make sure I actually stop, breathe and count to three when pushed on a point. People are so uncomfortable with silence that the chances are they’ll actually fill it for you and give you the answer, but it also helps you be more considered in your response. 

Never stop learning  

Make sure you take notes from every meeting, even the unsuccessful ones. Try to figure out the result you were given, as there’s value in even the most brutal pitch situation. I actually collate all of my thoughts and feedback from each pitch meeting into one document so that over time I can start to pick up on themes to help me develop my ideas in the future. 

Danny Lowney is founder of ‘good influencer’ talent agency Sixteenth

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