Reading Body Language

This first tip seems obvious but where people get hung up is on the exact cues to look for in a room when trying to read the body language of the people they’re pitching to. If you notice that people are not smiling right away, don’t panic. If someone is focusing on paying attention, statistics show that they’re probably not smiling. If you notice that they’re not smiling but making clear and direct eye contact you have a clear indicator that your audience is listening to what you have to say in your pitch presentation.

If you notice that the room is full of people looking around or making small talk during your pitch, you might be losing them. Wandering eyes and side convos usually indicate a lack of interest and a clear signal that you have to find a way to disrupt the current atmosphere and flow to get everyone’s attention back.

On another note, if you see the room start to “pull back” by either crossing their arms, leaning back in their chair, or slightly tilting their head, you need to be aware that you may have said (or are saying) something that they are uncomfortable with or uneasy about.

You need to learn and read the room.

You want to ensure that people are comfortable and engaged with what you have to say. If you’ve ever been in a pitch meeting with me then you know that breaking the ice with a bit of humor is a great way to start a pitch.

Breathing Patterns and Social Cues

With the above in mind, keep a clear eye on how the person across the table is breathing. Clear social cues can be sent by the way someone is breathing, and a great deal of communication happens (both conscious and subconscious) when we listen to how someone is breathing. If someone is taking in deep breaths, this usually indicates that they are uncomfortable with something you’re saying. It may not necessarily be that they disagree with you, but maybe they are having difficulty understanding what you’re trying to say. Slow down. Ensure the room understands you; don’t rush ahead of your audience.

On another note, if people are breathing very slowly and heavily, you may need to do or say something to wake the room up. The last thing you want to do is put everyone to sleep with a boring pitch presentation only to have your idea rejected and run into the ground afterward.

Shoes and Subliminal Messages

The shoes we wear send a message to the world. If we’re going jogging, we wear running shoes. We’re probably wearing professional attire if we’re going to our office. Likewise, our shoes might be a little more worn if we’re busy and don’t have the time to keep up with the latest fashion. However, meticulous people who pay close attention to detail will likely have shoes that look new and perfectly match the rest of their outfits.

All of this matters when you gauge a room and cater your pitch to the type of people you are dealing with.

If you’re in a room full of professionals that are uptight, you’ll probably notice that their shoes and suits are crisp and clean. Don’t speak too much, talk with assertiveness, and be direct. If, however, you notice that people are in semi-casual attire, wearing office shoes that are more plain and comfortable than expensive and well-kept, be aware that the room might be less rigid. It is okay to ease up if the room is more laid back and less aggressive.

In closing, if you want to nail your pitch presentation, follow these three steps, know your stuff, and speak confidently. You have more control over how your pitch goes than you realize.

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Ankur K Garg

I have built brands that have earned $125MM+ in revenues and I was a pioneer in developing social media influencers in the early 2010s. Currently I am a SDC Nutrition Executive @WeMakeSupplements, Founder of #INTHELAB, Founder of YOUNGRY @StayYoungry, Zealous Content Hero, Award Winning Graphic Designer & Full Stack Web Developer, and a YouTuber.