What is the difference between a great pitch and a winning pitch? What is the point of working hard to be the ‘best runner-up’? For Jacques Birol (H.74), it’s all about the mind, which determines the perception of content and form. How can you prepare to win? Here are his keys.

Position yourself as a champion

The first decision, as with any athlete, is to choose the right discipline. Focus on the one where your chances of reaching the top of the podium are the greatest. You need to choose a specific area, a specific niche, where your strengths will undoubtedly make a difference. To do this, ask yourself: in what area are you not afraid to compete with anyone in the world? Don’t spread yourself too thin. An overly generalist stance is a sure way to get lost and to lose. This tension about excellence is crucial. Assume you are positioned. Positioning means sacrificing, having the courage to put aside what you know how to do well in favour of what you know how to do better, differently. This is as true for a job as it is for a project or a company. It’s difficult when you have the ability to do a lot of things, but it’s unavoidable. That’s why Laura Elmore, Steve Jobs’ coach, says without hesitation « positioning is everything ». This focus is the source of unparalleled clarity and determination.

Display successes you are proud of

You are expected to be the bearer of future success. Think success. Verbalise success. Rehearse success. Build on the successes that fully express your personal and collective skills. The ones that make an impact are not necessarily the biggest ones, but the ones you are particularly proud of. List the challenges you have faced, the difficulties you have overcome, the results you have achieved, the lessons you have learned. Give some round, telling figures. One or two stories are enough. Practice five so that you are comfortable in all circumstances. Spend 50% of your time on success. Carried along by the sincerity of the experience, and driven by pride, you will be 200% yourself. By adopting success as your mantra, you will radiate your own energy, without forcing it. The effect is magical.

Projecting with boldness

Daring to be bold is the path to wisdom. Boldness in ambition, like saying « I am here to save humanity », when you sell pants that protect men’s fertility… Boldness in wording, like saying in an interview « I am a specialist in solving problems that are a mountain to climb… I’m not looking for a job, I’m looking for a mountain as high as possible… ». Boldness in action, like painting a quarter of your face green to express the promise « a quarter more green in the city; 4°C less temperature ». What counts is to dare to do something that will surprise you. You will have the stress that makes you excel. Richard Branson (Virgin) said: « I’m naturally shy. But when I saw that putting myself out there paid off, I never stopped. Champion, success, audacity: that’s my martingale. By practising, you will improve and progress with each pitch, like a competitor with each competition. And you will become a champion if you are only a champion in the beginning!

Pitch expert at HEC. A graduate of UCLA and Stanford, former president of Publicis Étoile and co-founder of Keljob.com, he has developed an original approach with HEC and Bpifrance. He is vice-president of the Hub entreprendre HEC Alumni. His book 52conseils pour entreprendre et innover received the Syntec Management « coup de coeur » award.

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