You’ve polished your script, found someone interested, and gotten a meeting. A producer or buyer has invited you to come to their office and tell them a bit about your spectacular idea. This is what everyone in Hollywood is here to do. You are going to pitch your idea. Congratulations!
If you are part of the few insane people who enjoy public speaking, this will be cake for you. The rest of us might want a few pointers.
There are things you should do, like research the people who will be at the meeting and wear clean underpants. Most importantly: you need to have a great pitch. We’ve heard all that before. But what about the things that you absolutely should not do? What are the things that are going to get you remembered for all the wrong reasons? Let’s talk about those.
No. 1 — Don’t Be Late
People in Hollywood are notoriously late, but lateness is a luxury reserved for those who have already made it. The producer may be out of the office or on the phone when you get there, but you still need to be on time, even if it means dodging a highway car chase. If a producer has ten minutes reserved for you, you need to be there when those ten minutes become available. Otherwise, you may lose your chance to get that producer’s ear.
Unless, of course, you are a well-known celebrity who is absurdly hot. Then, feel free to be late.
No. 2 — Don’t Act Desperate
Producers and buyers can smell desperation. Be kind, but confidant. Be open to suggestions for revision, but don’t start your pitch with any sort of apology about how much more work there is to be done on the idea before it’s perfect. Also, don’t eat every single piece of candy in the candy dish at their front desk. Bad form.
No. 3 — Don’t Talk Too Fast
We’ve all heard this one before, haven’t we? And yet, it’s one of the most difficult pieces of advice to take. Public speaking makes most of us nervous, and nervous tension makes us start talking faster so the meeting will be over sooner because why or why is it taking so long to say everything? (Followed by inner screams.)
Just remember: the point of the meeting is to communicate the idea to these folks. Chances are, they’re rooting for you to do well. They want to hear a fantastic pitch they can get excited about – that’s why they invited you there. So let yourself slow down and maybe even (dare we hope?) enjoy your moment to shine.
No. 4 — Don’t Ignore The Support Staff
This is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten. The administrative assistant may look like she’s twelve years old, but chances are she’s on the move and will become a decision-maker in the company at some point. Be courteous to each and every staff person you meet. Because they remember. Oh, how they remember.
No. 5 — Don’t Act Weird
This is more general advice than specific. You don’t want to do anything overtly weird in the meeting. The idea is to have them remember the meeting because the pitch was so great. It’s bad to have them remember you because you stripped down to a thong mid-pitch as a way to illustrate your point. (Yes, I really saw this happen once.)
Pitch meetings are usually informal, but they’re still business meetings. All the business meeting rules pretty much apply. So get out there and sell your wonderful not-weird pitch!