|3 Pitch Tips|
by Ellen Sandler
1. There are lots of reasons to keep your pitch brief. And, no, it’s not because the person you’re pitching to has a short attention span (nice way to say they’re an idiot). They may be, but chances are they’re not. More than likely they got their job because they’re sharp and on the ball, but they’re overworked, and probably hearing a dozen pitches a day. The simpler and shorter yours is, the more likely they are to remember it. And that’s very important, because 99% of the time you will not be pitching to the person who can say yes to your idea. That’s what directors of development are for – and they, not you, are going to pitch it to their boss who has even less time to devote to hearing your idea. If your pitch consists of two or three incredibly precise lines, it’ll be a lot easier for that assistant to take it “upstairs” and they won’t have to take on the chore of summarizing your idea, which may be missing the point entirely. Like I said, they’re not stupid, they’re busy. Make it easy for them to “get” your idea and you’ve got a much better shot.
2. Don't get to meetings on time. That's right. On time is too late. Get there EARLY! As obvious as this is, how many of us actually do it. If you plan to get there early, unforeseen things like slow moving traffic what? In L.A.? - will not cause you to panic, raise your blood pressure or sweat on your freshly pressed shirt. Arriving with your adrenalin in control is a major plus that you can carry into the meeting. Arriving EARLY also gives you time to study the posters on the company's walls, and think of something you loved about one of their productions, (find something, even if it's how realistic the blood was in Teenage Vampire Killers from San Dimas) which you can then mention in the meeting. Most importantly, arriving EARLY gives you lots of time to chat with the assistant. Assistants wield a lot of influence. It's an important relationship to develop. You want him/her to remember you fondly when you call to follow up or when s/he's reading your material and writing coverage for the boss. And remember, an assistant has that job for one reason: to move up. Next year you could be pitching to him/her. You never know.
3. Say you're at your cousin's kid's bat mitzva, and you meet somebody you like talking to and turns out you're in the same business. Wow, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, or even better, a pitch meeting. "Let's get together sometime," s/he says to you and being the pro you are, you came prepared. You reach for your handsome leather card case and whip out your tastefully designed business cards with all your phone numbers and email addresses on it. "Great. I'll call you," your new friend says. Uh oh. A contact dying right before your eyes. When you meet someone you want to stay in touch with, it's more important to get their business card than to give them yours. If they don't have a card let them write their information on the back of one of yours. First of all it's much more flattering to them your wanting their card rather than pressing your card on them; and never underestimate the power of subtle forms of flattery. But most important: If you have their card you can take the initiative, that way you're not depending on them, to make the next move. You're more in control. Now, honestly, wouldn't you like a little more power and control? By the way, if you're single, this works for your personal as well as your professional life.
Want more tips on pitching and meetings? Schedule a coaching session with Ms. Sandler. Call Jon Dobkin at 310 857-1652 to get special rates for NATPE members.
Most recently, Sandler was co-executive producer of Everybody Loves Raymond for which she was nominated for an Emmy. She has created pilots for all major networks.