Pitching 101 in the Arts

Event Recap: It's All About The Pitch

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The last ELNYA/YPA workshop brought together young art professionals on October 10 at the Roger Smith hotel to learn and hone their pitching skills from Vladimir Vukicevic, Co-Founder and CEO of Meural.

Pitching is an integral part of every art professionals day-to-day life. Whether you’re looking for a new job, telling colleagues about a new idea, seeking funding for an arts project, or looking for funders or investors for a new production. Great pitching skills will always be useful to you.

So, for everyone who couldn’t make it to our workshop in person, we’ve put together a recap of most useful tips from the evening:


Who Will You Be Pitching To?

Do learn more about the person you will be pitching to. Find out to the best of your ability what their motivations are, where their expertise lies, and why they might be interested in hearing more from you.

Don’t Over-Prepare Either

While you should certainly know enough about the person sitting across from you during a pitch, sometimes over-preparing can work against you. Knowing too much about them can make you assume too much. Give yourself the space to truly listen and hear what they are telling you they are interested in.

Trust & Like

In its essence, pitching is getting another person to like and trust you. Of course, that’s often easier said than done. But for someone else to invest in you, hire you, or support a project you’re working on, trust really does become crucial. However, remember that the feeling should be mutual as well.


Don’t Take It Personal

Assume rejection without being cynical,” says Vladimir Vukicevic.

It will free you up to be more relaxed and less pressured when pitching.


A Step at a Time

Start with networking, then suggest coffee, then mention what you’re working on and float the idea or what you’re searching for, be it advising, or money, or something else entirely, and see how they react.

Get it off email as soon as possible, it’s too impersonal and much harder to deliver a good pitch through.

Phone pitch: know who you’re pitching to, and if they like phone calls. Millennials tend to not prefer the phone for example.

Show social proof: get others to vouch for you, be it a colleague, boss, or friends. Hearing the same idea, pitch etc. from multiple sources makes the person being pitched to think it’s legit.

Tell a story and talk about your mission. Human history is based on stories and psychologically we react positively to anything packaged in a story So use that to your advantage.


Good signs when pitching:

  • They show up on time
  • They ask questions, which shows they care to learn more about the content

2 psychological principles to remember when pitching: Fear & Greed

Fear: use people’s sense of FOMO (fear of missing out), that if they don’t get on board with your idea, they will miss out. If they don’t hire you now, someone else more important will. Or if they don’t support your project now, there is another interested party who will invest even more.

Greed: show growth over time, be that in money, followers, supporters, performances, events, or any other metric that shows growth such as newsletter subscribers, so that

Time kills deals, keep the momentum going. Minimize the time between the pitch and decisionmaking, or keep people informed and in the loop, the longer you wait for a decision the likelier it is you’ll receive a ‘no’.


The 3 Categories of People You Pitch To

Usually people you pitch fall into one of the following three categories and we learned how you can reach them too:

1. People who invest time, money, resources, advice, and more, because they are interested in the social aspect of what you do. Often they believe strongly in the same mission and do not care about the financial return.

How to Pitch: You approach the pitch by telling them a narrative. Answer questions like: will the legacy of your project, organization, idea, live on?

2. People who invest money and they expect a return,. They often look for a 1.5-2x return on their invested money.

How to Pitch: You will tend to have a more familial and closer relationship with these type of investors.

3. People who invest other people’s money and want to make 10x the amount invested.

How to Pitch: Show hard numbers and facts. What are you disrupting or changing? These people will care about the big picture stuff.

Now that you've essentially attended the professional development workshop from the comfort of your own couch, you're prepared to go out and pitch. Good luck!

Learn more at YPA's next Professionals in the Arts Mentorship Session is on The Arts Job Interview - Marketing & DevelopmentJoin us on Tuesday, November 14.