A few weeks ago, I attended the Texas Conference for Women. The conference was entitled Live Fearlessly, which is appropriate for what I am about to share with you. Part of the conference included the opportunity to break off into small sessions. The first session I chose was Spark & Hustle: How to Put “Spark” into Your Pitch with Tory Johnson and Cindy Solomon. This session was devoted to selling your story. With your voice. Something I am terrible at. I made pretty great grades in college. My required public speaking class? Grade C.
In listening to them speak, I was taking notes and writing down how I would pitch Homespun (not whyimake.com because I was still working out the details). Then towards the end, they asked if anyone would want to throw their name into a hat to have their pitch critiqued in the next session, The Spark Tank – Pitch to the Pros. They would be drawing names. And I CANNOT believe I did this, but I put my name in.
As I sat their, with a cold, claritin-induced cotton mouth, no breakfast, and lots of coffee I crossed my fingers and prayed that they would not pick me. Because then, I could just leave the conference patting myself on the back having gotten that far. But I am sure you know what happened next.
I waited my turn with the claritin, coffee, and nerves making me shake. Literally. What did my husband tell me that morning? Oh yeah, “Make sure you eat something because that claritin will make you jittery.”
It was a disaster. I did not even tell them the name of my business. When I finally finished my ludicrous pitch, they kind of starred at me blinking (at least that is what it felt like). All three of the lovely women I was pitching to, Barbara Bradley (of Vera Bradley), Jessica Nadeau (of Soletos), Cindy Soloman (pretty much an expert on all things pitches), and Tory Johnson (GMA…duh.) were so gracious and kind not to laugh at me.
You probably want to know where I am going with this, right? No, I am not going to criticize myself any longer. I want to tell you what I learned while attempting to toot my own horn.
You have to do it because no one else will.
I struggle with this. And at the root of it all is confidence. You know your idea is the best thing since sliced bread, but many of you fail to show it to the rest of the world because you are afraid. Fear of the unknown is pretty powerful. Unfortunately, there is not another person on the planet that knows your art or business like you do. Put your fear aside and go for it. Your story will be better for it.
Practice what you are not good at.
It is my tendency to keep doing the things that I am good at because let’s face it – it feels much better than being humiliated! But, practice develops into habits and habits are comfortable. And if you are one of those weirdos (and I use that term affectionately!) that loves to be in front of crowds of people but you stink at writing about your art or business, practice writing.
If all else fails, just wing it.
As painful as my experience was, in the end it was so worth it because I tried. Had I not tried, I would not have handed out 6 of my business cards after the session. I would not have connected with Tory and Cindy on Linked-in. And I would not know where my bottom was with regards to my pitch! I now know I can only go up from here.
Do you have any experiences like mine? What did you learn?