Preparing and delivering a full pitch is inherently stressful.
The source of that stress comes from a simple realization. Your project might get rejected.
In fact, getting a response is the ultimate point of a pitch. Here’s what I’m doing, do you want to be involved? There may be discussion, there may be requests for more information, but the act of pitching inherently invites a response.
Unfortunately, this can feel high risk and lead to a temptation to “soft pitch”. You know: to not prepare a full, polished pitch, to just have a roundabout “off-the-cuff” conversation about your project. Nothing polished, nothing prepared. No biggie.
“Just to test the waters.”
That’s the sound of that strategy backfiring.
This half-hearted approach may seem low risk. You’re not pushing for a final decision, you just want to see if there’s interest. The danger of a “casual discussion” is that the Decision Maker might nonetheless make an evaluation of your project and decide that it’s not for them.
Now. You. Are. Done.
You’ve run the marathon and tripped ten meters before the finish line!
There’s truth to the cliche: “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” It’ll be difficult, if not impossible, to come back to that Decision Maker and do a proper pitch with that project.
The most unfortunate thing is that you haven’t given your project the opportunity to be presented in the best way possible – with a polished pitch.
It’s a fine balance. If you must talk about your project in advance of a meeting, keep it brief and high level (think Elevator Pitch). A Decision Maker will let you know if you’re in the ball park and whether a more robust conversation is necessary and appropriate.
But the safest bet requires an investment of time and effort: create a strong, concise, polished pitch that’s engaging and compelling. That way, whatever response you get from the Decision Maker, you’ll know that you’ve at least crossed the finish line and presented your project in the best way possible.