There’s a lot to think about when it comes to pitching a prospect, especially investors, but you shouldn’t make the mistake of focusing only on the content of your presentation. Beyond the substance, you also need to think about how you look and what emotions you’re hoping to convey to your listeners.
From the moment you step into a room, it should be your goal to impress everyone. In other words, your audience should have a positive perception of you before you ever open your mouth.
Of course you’ll need to back up the perception with the substance of your pitch, but it starts with looking the part. Below are five essential tips to help you score.
1: Dress Conservatively
There are times when it’s safe to take a chance and wear something unusual or trendy. For example, if you’re going out with friends on a Saturday night and plan on visiting a popular dance club, a trendy outfit is probably the right choice.
But a presentation or pitch is not the time to startle people with your appearance. Both men and women should dress conservatively.
Don’t confuse “conservative” with boring, though. It simply means wearing classic staples and not revealing too much. The idea is to direct attention to your words, not your body.
2: Select Appropriate Color and Fit of Clothing
From a clothing perspective, the two most important facets of your appearance are color and fit. Nail these two elements and you quickly put yourself in an advantageous position.
“Color is convincing. It’s visually stimulating and it too triggers emotions — both good and bad,” Corporate Fashionista says. “You can’t control whether your audience will have a positive or negative association with a particular color, but what you can control is using the powers of color to your best advantage by making sure the color you wear when pitching is flattering on you.”
As for fit, you should wear clothing that’s tailored to your body, but not so tight that it’s revealing. Well-fitted clothing communicates that you pay attention to the details and are both organized and aware of your appearance.
3: Use Jewelry to Accent Your Face
Everyone has a unique face shape, but did you know that most of us fit into one of six different categories? Faces typically fall into the categories of heart-shaped, long, oval, triangle, square, or round. And the shape of your face determines which jewelry you should wear.
You’ll need to begin by identifying your shape.
“Tie all your hair back, away from your face,” jewelry retailer Diamondere suggests. “Ask someone to take a close-up photograph of your face. On a print-out of the picture use a marker to outline the contours of your face and see which shape it resembles most closely.”
Based on your findings, Diamondere provides some suggestions for each face type. The goal is to complement yourself by balancing out extreme features and accentuating your best ones.
4: Be Conscious of Body Language
Looks go far beyond what you’re wearing. One of the most essential techniques for winning people over with your appearance relates to being conscious of your body language.
Effective body language can have a strong influence over the people around you and is something that anyone can master. Some of the important non-verbal cues to pay attention to include posture, facial expressions, handshakes, and eye contact.
Always pull your shoulder blades back and stand tall. Remember to relax your face and smile. Give a firm handshake and don’t be the first one to release. Make eye contact whenever you’re speaking to someone, and never look away for more than a couple of seconds.
5: Think Confidently
Another aspect of delivering a winning pitch is exuding confidence. Investors and customers are much more likely to work with you if they feel like you know what you’re doing.
But if you’re like many other people, confidence doesn’t come naturally. There are tons of strategies and techniques for making yourself look confident, but it all starts with your mental state.
You need to think confidently in order to appear confident. As Jason Hihn says:
“It requires a mental attitude shift to an expectation of success. And this alone, can bring about more success, reinforcing the confidence. It spirals from there.”
Make Appearance a Priority
We live in a society where everyone wants to pretend that looks don’t matter. The mainstream media tell us to believe that judgments come from the heart and that visual appearances have little or no effect on how readily our ideas are accepted by others.
That would be a valid notion in a utopian society, but we don’t live in a perfect world. Looks do matter and your ability to pitch prospects successfully is, in part, determined by what you wear and how you carry yourself. Look good, and you can close the deal.