Yesterday I was asked to “pitch” my Playwriting Club to a group of nine and ten year olds in front of the whole school. Were they the least bit interested? Who knows? I guess I’ll find out next week when they either do/don’t show up.
Why does the idea of pitching fill us with dread and nerves; give us dry mouths and sweaty palms? I bumped into an old friend just afterwards, über- confident and socially successful, who finds the idea of “the pitch” just mortifying. Is it because we think we’ll be no good,fail miserably, stutter over our words, bore the assembled?
I don’t think so. For me, it’s the fear of not saying everything your best self had prepared in their head, forgetting exciting points and in short not living up to the captivating character on that stage at the TEDx event. It’s that feeling when leaving the interview where you left out a crucial, impressive project which you later feel would have swung all in your favour.
Who are life’s great pitchers? Anyone who has wowed the crowds at a TEDx – I’m thinking Andrew Stanton of Pixar who began his talk with the risque goat joke ( begin with a funny – great strategy) and Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat,Pray,Love fame. The late Steve Jobs was always pictured at the annual Apple meeting introducing the latest iWotsit – charismatic guy with great material but his greatest pitch must surely have been the fabled Toy Story/Pixar one. Politicians are forced to excel in the eloquence stakes, but the current race for the White House has turned that one on it’s head.
Nature’s greatest pitchers? Children. They pitch for the right to finish the last cornflakes, where they get to sit at school or in the car, an extension to their bedtime or the prospect of a sleepover. They need to – they are not in a position of power and their only hope is in their powers of persuasion.
I’m now off to get a cup of tea to moisten my parched mouth, for, as the Alec Baldwin character from Glengarry Glen Ross says, “Coffee is for closers”