“That jerk just used half my pitch time!!”
If you’ve been through the pitching cycle at festivals you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t yet, this is bound to happen to you. And if you’re not ready for it, it is going to screw up your pitch. Or rather, you are going to screw up your pitch. So here’s how it happens:
You’re at a festival waiting for your 11:15 pitch meeting with the production company and the guy in front of you doesn’t leave when he’s supposed to.
You’re there. You’re ready. You’ve got your business card and your One Sheet. You’ve had your Snickers bar and just the right amount of coffee so you know you’re energy is in the right place, and the guy just won’t shut up. And the frickin’ Exec is letting it happen!!
You can feel yourself getting upset. And as more minutes go by the more steamed you get.
If you are not prepared for this to happen you are going to completely blow that meeting.
You are going to walk into it feeling mad, ripped off, and either under pressure to condense your 10 minute pitch into five, or, you’re going to be adamant that he stole half your time so you’re going to steal the next guy’s.
At that point the responsibility is on you. And I personally take this situation as an opportunity.
If the Exec’s previous pitch went well he’ll be feeling good. Why? Because his job (it’s his job!!) is to find the next great show. He’s not there for you. He’s there for himself and his bosses. So if the pitch went long because it was going so great he is going to feel upbeat and energized. He’s going to be more open. You can work with that!
Now, as you pitch he may also be distracted by the great pitch he just heard so you need to come in strong. Be the best you’ve ever been. Feed off the energy in the room. Feed off the energy the Exec is feeling from the last great pitch! That jerk who just used half your time has actually helped you by putting the Exec in a great mood.
You must must must (!!) shake off any feelings of negativity that you got from being forced to wait for your pitch meeting.
And if the Exec doesn’t mention that the previous pitch went long, don’t bring it up. Life happens right? Act like a pro. If you were in this exec’s office and they were five minutes late for your appointment would you mention it when you walked into their office? (the answer is “no I certainly would not”). So act the same way here.
You know how you prepared your show and your pitch so that you could answer questions about it? You know how you are prepared for curveballs the Execs might throw at you? Do the same with this.
They might be running late. They might receive a text or email on their phone and get distracted in the middle of your pitch. You need to be ready. Upbeat. Positive. Unflappable!! You are a pro. You belong in that meeting. You belong in the pitch room. Your show belongs on TV dammit!!
But that is only true if you are prepared for that jerk in front of you to take some of your pitch time without it turning you into a sniveling whiner.