It was the finals for the Pitch2Win competition and I’d spent the whole afternoon practising with my friend, although I had no faith that I was going to win.
Firstly, what’s Pitch2Win? Pitch2Win gives students the opportunity to pitch their business idea to a panel with the chance to win £250 start up cash with the possibility of winning a further £1000 and be crowned the overall winner in a final awards ceremony in April. I had pitched in October and won the £250 and now I was in the final.
I turned up to the venue at the Innovation Centre on the Tuesday 26th April 2016, the final, and everyone was there, mingling. I wasn’t ready to mingle- I didn’t have business cards, I didn’t have an exhibition table, I hadn’t researched the people who was attending, I definitely was not ready. Then I found out I was going to be the first to pitch… this made me panic even more.
I walked on stage and spoke about BeScience STEM, I didn’t talk ‘at’ the audience, I had more of a conversation with them, as though I was talking to my friends and family. I got so comfortable that I let a tear fall down my cheek. I felt very vulnerable, but my passion for BeScience STEM was taking over, I needed this money for our conference,STEMsocial. I was so sure that I hadn’t won, I felt as though I didn’t pitch properly, like it was very unprofessional. To be honest, I just wanted to hide under the table.
After everyone had finished pitching, the audience had to vote. During the announcement, it was completely silent in the room… ‘And the winner is….. [Long pause]…. Jessica Okoro- BeScience STEM…’
I sat in my seat startled; surely, they hadn’t just said I won. I messed up… I cried!
‘Jessica go up, you won’ my friend said… but I was still startled.
I walked up to the stage. I was handed the trophy, with tears racing down my face.
After that experience I’ve learned 3 things about pitching to a group of people I didn’t know…
1. It’s okay to show you emotion, it’s okay to show that you are really passionate. But talk with conviction, don’t let the audience doubt your idea.
2. Don’t ‘WING’ it, try and practice prior, have an idea of what you are going to say.
3. Have a conversation with your audience, let them know you. Don’t pretend to be someone else. No one likes that.
For more information about BeScience STEM, please visit their website.