The Pitch Coach: Catherine Moonan

26th May 2016

Posted In: WMB Advice
Catherine Moonan

As the pitch coach for the Irish TV programme ‘Dragons’ Den’, Catherine Moonan has coached more than 500 contestants, helping them to gain over €4 million in investment.

In her practical and informative book –The Pitch Coach Your Guide to Presenting, Interviewing and Public Speaking – she provides all the skills and techniques you need to pitch yourself, your idea or your business.

She interviews businesswomen such as Olive O’Connor, Founder of MediStori, Sinéad Kenny, CEO of DiaNia Technologies, and Gail Condon, Founder of Writing for Tiny on their pitching techniques, proving nobody starts out perfectly and we all have room to improve.

Catherine also provides a helpful breakdown to thoroughly structure your pitch, line of thought etc.

Here we share some of her best tips for ensuring your pitch goes smoothly:

1. The starting point of any pitch, presentation or speech is your audience. Research your audience. Who are they? Why should they care? How are they going to benefit? Find an emotional connection between you and your audience.

2. Structure your pitch, presentation or speech in a story format with a wow opening, three to five main points, a closing which includes a summary, an overlap with your opening, a thank you and an action or focus for the future.

3. Ensure that there is a logical link between your points. Take the audience by the hand, step by step, through your speech, pitch or presentation.

4. Keep your pitch, presentation or speech as concise, clear and simple as possible. Let there be no room for confusion.

5. Engage and entertain your audience with relevant examples and anecdotes that they will remember.

6. Vary the pitch and pace of your voice. Use pause and emphasis.

7. Ensure that you have a confident posture, with your shoulders back and your feet fixed to the floor. Keep your hands by your sides, and gesture normally. Use eye contact and maintain a pleasant facial expression.

8. Nerves are normal – just learn to manage them. Breathe mindfully, use visualisation and/or positive affirmations. Shift the focus from yourself to getting the message across to your audience. Change the spotlight on you to a floodlight on the audience.

9. Practise your pitch, presentation or speech as often as possible. Speak from the heart.

10. Be interested and passionate about the topic of your speech, pitch or presentation. It will have a ripple effect on your audience.

Most importantly, Catherine reminds readers to “be yourself”.

Catherine Moonan set up Communication Matters in 2002 to provide training and coaching in communication and presentation skills. Since then, she has trained individuals and corporate groups within a wide range of business sectors. Catherine has coached entrepreneurs and graduates on many of Ireland’s start-up programmes, including UCD’s Innovation Academy, DCU’s Ryan Academy, DIT’s Hothouse Programme and nine New Frontiers programmes in the Institutes of Technology around Ireland. She was the pitch coach for the finalists of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur 2014 and 2015.

(Photo: NDCC)