Five Things You Should Never Do In A Pitch Meeting

By:

Do not try this at home. Fast & Furious 6 (2013) Photo courtesy: Universal

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 drooling please! Secret Life of Pets (2016) Photo courtesy: Universal

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.

Communication is super hard. Arrival (2016) Photo courtesy: Paramount

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.

Don’t take his stapler. Mm-kay? Office Space (1999) Photo courtesy: 20th Century Fox

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.

Life hack: only strip in public if you’re an actual stripper. Magic Mike (2012) Photo courtesy: Warner Bros.

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!

author-avatar

Jennie Evenson is the author of "Shakespeare for Screenwriters" (Michael Wiese, 2013) and the forthcoming "Storytelling Secrets of the Masters." As a writer in LA, Evenson worked as a consultant for Netflix and developed ideas at production houses from DreamWorks to Focus Features. You can follow her on Twitter: @JM_Evenson

10 Replies to "Five Things You Should Never Do In A Pitch Meeting"

  • comment-avatar
    Art Thomas June 12, 2017 (5:58 am)

    Great Tips! Thank you for sharing. When we pitched our latest film, HUSH MONEY (www.hushmoneyfilm.com/trailer) to investors, we followed many of your points.

  • comment-avatar
    Joseph Knowles June 12, 2017 (7:56 am)

    This is so good for when I am ready to pitch. Thank you so much. Joe

  • comment-avatar
    William Sowles June 12, 2017 (9:05 am)

    Pitch and get out of Dodge!

  • comment-avatar
    Lilia F June 12, 2017 (3:46 pm)

    Great stuff, tweeting now. In addition to the undies, what else should you wear?

  • comment-avatar
    Shirley Hassen June 12, 2017 (6:50 pm)

    SHIRLEY HASSEN
    your advice was both practical and comical. I have several scrits needing to be noticed also many books/manuscripts. I am considering your advice.

  • comment-avatar
    Shirley Hassen June 12, 2017 (6:51 pm)

    SHIRLEY HASSEN
    your advice was both practical and comical. I have several scripts needing to be noticed also many books/manuscripts. I am considering your advice.

  • comment-avatar
    Mahesh Seelvi June 13, 2017 (9:45 pm)

    great advice. If acted upon any one can be successful in pitching their story.

  • comment-avatar
    John June 19, 2017 (5:52 am)

    While this is all good advice, it’s hard to believe anyone over the the age of 5 wouldn’t know this all already. Are millennials really this clueless about normal adult human behavior?

    • comment-avatar
      Jennie Evenson June 19, 2017 (4:21 pm)

      We all have to start somewhere. In my experience, even grizzled old pros can use a refresher on decorum sometimes!

  • comment-avatar
    Ichabod Nutson September 8, 2017 (1:06 pm)

    A hypothetical producer writes: “Your script looks good, yet we really can’t tell because we haven’t yet had you come in, hold our hand, and do a song’n’dance.”
    A writer asks: Why in the sweet hell can’t a producer make up his mind on his own? What additional commercial worth could possibly be given a script if the writer were to show-up and jack-his-crank? (And I’m eating all the candy. Now, tell me all about this girl who looks 12.)

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

Join Our Magazine
Get a free subscription to ScreenwritingU Magazine and download over 40 Academy Nominated screenplays.
No Thanks
Thanks for Joining ScreenwritingU Magazine!
We respect your privacy. Your information is safe and will never be shared.
Don't miss out. Join today!
×
×