I was recently at the ‘s Pitch for $1,000 event, and that old saying, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, Practice, Practice” came to mind.

The set-up was simple. Anyone who wanted to was given the opportunity to pitch to a panel of well-known angel investors, the catch being that none of the pitches could exceed 30 seconds.  The winner would take home $1,000 at the end of the night.

An exercise in brevity indeed!

Well, as you can imagine, dozens of founders lined up to take a shot at the 30 second pitch.  Some were good, some were not-so-good, some were totally incoherent in trying to squeeze far too much information into 30 seconds.

And then a woman got up, perfectly put together from her immaculately coiffed hair to the tips of her lilac shoes.  She stepped up to the microphone, took a breath and introduced herself, “My name is ________ and I’m from _________…”

And then she stopped.  Her eyes widened and then glazed over, as her mouth hung open. And it quickly became apparent that she had completely forgotten the rest of her pitch.

The audience shifted uncomfortably as she hemmed and hawed for the interminably long period before the MC called “Time,” and the next founder stepped up to the microphone.

I spoke to Lilac Shoes afterwards to ask her about her company (which was actually very interesting), and she sighed “It was my first time…”

Not a surprise.  And this is why I tell you, my friends, no matter how well put together your pitch it, it’s just as important to practice, practice, practice like you’re trying to get to Carnegie Hall.

Why? Because in the moment as the adrenalin starts flowing and everyone is waiting for you to start, it is all too easy to forget what you’ve been planning to say.  That’s when the hours of practice kick in and take over.

By practicing and getting used to doing your pitch, your body can shift into autopilot when you are first up there, helping you to get going if your mind goes momentarily blank. Your mouth will start moving automatically, forming words and sentences so your brain doesn’t have to think about it and the panic never sets in.

The practice is what makes it looks effortless and makes you look like a pro!

The car? The shower? The gym? Where do you practice your pitch?