I recently gave a talk on pitching at a software development conference, where I focused on delivery and being human.

In the Q&A, someone asked, “What if you’re not animated like you, Jon?” My answer was that you can be quiet and even awkward when pitching as long as you’re authentic and honest – and have something worth sharing, obviously. I’ll happily watch someone speak who appears to be uncomfortable and nervous if they also appear to be an enthusiastic expert on their subject. In fact, I probably enjoy that more because the first impression means that I’m not expecting them to be particularly engaging. This is a trick used to great effect by some stand-up comics: initially, they appear to be inept, but then subvert that impression by saying something witty and scathing. Audiences love being tricked like that because it’s such a good surprise.

Simple is Easier

If you want to engage your audience, less is more: fewer words, less content, less to take in (Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was approximately 270 words). The rule is: if in doubt, cut it out.

This applies to your style of delivery, too. Just as you should remove any material isn’t vital to communicate your message, so you should remove anything from your delivery that isn’t authentically you. Don’t think that they won’t find you interesting because you’re not like them – that’s why you’re interesting. If the speaker before you has been animated and vivacious, then being as different as possible will work strongly in your favour.

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