How to Conquer Fear of Pitching?

by Selin Beyhan

Fear can hamper you from many things especially when it comes to speaking in front of an audience, and the topic is your new business idea. Unrealistic worst-case scenarios may start sneaking into the mind to steal your enthusiasm and self-confidence. Good news: You are much stronger than your fears, you just need some techniques to overcome them. Do not let your fear run the show!

All ideas deserve a good pitch, even when they are not worth pursuing. After all, you can never know if your idea was worth pursuing without sharing it with others. Easier said than done, for sure! One does not necessarily have glossophobia, namely fear of public speaking, to have sweating palms, trembling hands or a shaking voice before taking the stage. For this reason, I have interviewed with some of our Venture Teams and taken away great tips based on their distilled experience for overcoming fear of pitching before and during the show.

#1 Rule of thumb: Believe in your idea

That is Pitching101: If you do not give a chance to your idea, no one will. It does not matter how it is going to end or what kind of feedback you will receive. You should convince yourself that your idea is worth spreading. Do not underestimate the power of emotional contagion. Your audience will absorb and reflect your thoughts and feelings back to you. Are you passionate? You will find passionate listeners. Are you unsure? Why would your audience be sure about what you are telling?

#2 Practice makes the master

There is no glory in practice, but without practice, there is no glory. You have heard or read this so many times already, but it is not a “buzz-advice” anymore when you hear it from people, who had the most recent first-hand experience of practicing and giving great pitches in the end. Simple advice: Use every opportunity to practice. Here are two more homemade recipes from our Venture Teams:

First, watch yourself. Literally. No pun intended. Practicing in front of a mirror, checking your gestures and mimics, and getting acquainted with the “you on the stage” will help you gain self-confidence. Theater actors and actresses have a good reason to rehearse in front of a mirror. Take it up. The stage is yours while you are on it.

Second, watch your team. Practicing with your team will strengthen the sense of togetherness as well as give you the sincerest feedback. While you are giving feedback for your teammate, you will look from the perspective of the audience and explore your expectation as a listener. This will help you a lot to organize your speech.

#3 Trust your audience

People are not that bad, trust them! Your audience is there to learn from you, to support you and they want you to be successful as much as you do! You are not in a high school surrounded by bullying teenagers eagerly waiting for the first opportunity to demolish you. Look your audience in the eye, spread your excitement and embrace theirs.

#4 Perfect is the enemy of good

Do not get obsessed with being perfect since it will bring you nowhere. Give your best for that moment and see your most important pitch as a rehearsal before the better one in the future. This perspective will sooth you and help you embrace all kinds of feedback. Let’s say, your one idea was not found that convincing. So what? Positive feedback and approval are nice to have, but ‘constructive feedback’ and rejection are the musts to make you move forward. You have just had the great opportunity to get valuable input from experienced people. Enjoy it!

#5 Time limit is your friend, not your foe

It can be challenging to pitch your idea in precious few minutes. Turn it into an advantage. Limited time will help you focus on the best of what you have and frame your concept in a more solid way. A useful trick is to develop a coded gesture between you and your teammates, for example, they can slightly raise hand so that you know it’s time to pass to the next slide. Such a collaboration will also remind you that you are not alone on the stage - your team is with you!

#6 Entertain yourself and your audience

What you are telling is the backbone of your pitch, but the way you are putting it builds up the whole skeleton! Try to keep a good balance between informing and entertaining. Give your messages clear and punchy. Touch people’s needs by giving examples from daily life, for instance. This will help you connect to your audience better and feel more relaxed in return.

#7 Get ready for the questions

What can your audience ask? Think about it and prepare yourself. If you have a presentation, you can include a backup slide for possible questions. You did not receive the questions you had expected? Fine, no need to worry! Take these two basic steps: First, digest the question. Listen to it carefully and do not interpret it. When you are not sure, paraphrase the question like “You are asking this. Have I understood you correctly?” Then begin your answer with what you already know. This will give you precious few seconds to formulate your sentences.

#8 Don't forget to breath

I can hear you saying “oh, come on!” :) However, breathing is not that automatic and easy when you feel nervous or stressed. Regulate your breathing five minutes before pitching. You can use your thumb to close one side of your nose and breathe in through the other side ten times. Repeat this for the other side. This will help you relax before your big show. You can also use meditation applications such as “Headspace” or “Calm” to alleviate your stress.

Remember: the only thing you should fear is to end up with “what if” questions. What if I had got on the stage? What if I had given a chance to my idea? Pitch it now, and you will never have to ask these regretful questions!

My profound thanks to Venture Teams Koru, Replique and BOXLAB for sharing their valuable experience and spreading the courage! Do you have comments or questions? Contact me on Linkedin!

You have a business idea and want to pitch it? Check our events on the website or send an e-mail to

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Selin's Background

Professional translator, content writer and Ph.D. student in English Literature at University of Heidelberg with a focus on empathy, emotions and change in contemporary texts.

Selin has been supporting communication & marketing activities at Chemovator. Her watch here is ending soon to allocate more time to her dissertation and continue her career as a freelancer meanwhile. As a horror fan, fear is her favorite emotion to analyse in her readings. If you are looking for someone to discuss, review and `enjoy´ horror movies, contact her! She is complaning about not finding enough horror fans around. :)