On Pitching And Practicing 100 Times - And Winning The Pitch!

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Partnering with other entrepreneurs enables you to implement at a faster adoption rate. By Taylor Louie (Co-Founder & COO, Skillville Games)

March is my favorite month. In addition to housing one of the best holidays of the year (my birthday), it’s also Women’s History Month. As soon as I saw that Pitch Mixer, a new pitching and feedback-focused monthly entrepreneurial gathering, was putting on a women-only pitch session (with an allfemale judging panel to boot), I immediately dropped my name in the hat.

Now, I wouldn’t call myself a seasoned presenter, by any means, but I attend pitch sessions regularly, and am frequently giving pitches to potential investors for my company, Skillville Games. I am very comfortable standing up in front of a group of people and talking about my product for 5 min. No prob.

But then came the email with the details for the presenters, bearing some less-than-awesome news: there will be no slides or visual aids of any kind for the presentation. Just you, the mic, and the panel of judges watching you…

Ah! I’d never given a presentation-less presentation before! This changes the whole pitching experience entirely. “Ok, crap.” I thought to myself. And then I stewed. For a whole day. At least. How am I supposed to make the judges understand all of the awesome information I am packing into five minutes without all the visual aids that I’d created?

Worse yet, what will I do if I forget what I’m talking about (the dreaded “brain fart”) and don’t have anything to look back at to guide me? I would be lying if I told you that the email didn’t stop me dead in my tracks. I was a teensie bit terrified.

But then I remembered. This is my product, and my pitch. I stood in front of the mirror and started talking about Skillville Games, making note of the important things that I would need to ensure to touch upon in the presentation. I started by reciting the pitch, as if I had a presentation behind me, and continued to make changes to better accommodate the media-less pitch.

The day of the Pitch Mixer, I cleared my calendar. I knew I would need the day to practice. And practice I did. In front of the mirror, in front of my business partner, on the phone with my parents. I even arrived early to the event to get used to the space and practice the pitch in the actual space that I would be competing in.

Then it was time. I sat on the stage in front of the crowd of 100+ people nervously watching the woman pitching first give an awesome presentation. Then it was my turn. I stood up behind the podium, took a deep breath, and started. “Hi everyone! My name is Taylor Louie….” Then, without hesitation, the rest of it fell into place. The pitch rolled out of my mouth like I had practiced it a hundred times (which, indeed, I had).

After all of the pitches had been given, when Ayori Selassie, co-founder of the Pitch Mixer series, announced the winner, my heart leapt. It’s always a wonderful feeling to hear your company’s name, and “winner” mentioned in the same sentence. My fear turned hard work had paid off.

There was definitely a lesson for me to be learned here. Life is always going to throw you a curve-ball, but that may not necessarily be a bad thing. It’s easy to fall into a pattern, to give the same pitch every time, and to have it memorized and down pat. This experience pushed me to be a better presenter, and by rising to the occasion, I experienced the profound satisfaction of recognition for a job well done.

Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Taylor Louie is Co-Founder and COO of Skillville, a competitive casual gaming aggregator that provides the tournament platform for players to connect and compete in fun and easy-to-learn casual games for cash and prizes. Her business background, video gaming upbringing, and independent spirit made for a perfect concoction for a gaming entrepreneur. Follow her on Twitter at @t_louie.