Although some entrepreneurs set aside some time to prepare for their investor pitch, very few take steps to effectively prepare mentally. This failure inevitably impacts on the presenter’s performance during their pitch and often the outcome.

Visualization or Performance Imagery (as it is commonly referred to by military and law enforcement) is without doubt one of the most effective human performance tools of our time. Backed by neuroscience and supported by decades of research from leading universities, visualization is a thoroughly researched human performance technique based on scientific principles and an understanding of the human brain.

Imagery…is the most important of the mental skills required for winning the mind game in sports.”

Dr. Shane Murphy, former head of psychological training for the US Olympic Committee 2005

Studies on athletes and military personnel have recorded substantial improvements in performance and outcomes, where subjects have practiced visualization. When practiced correctly, Visualization will dramatically transform your ability to pitch. It is for reasons that the technique is one of the pillars of our pitch coaching program for clients getting ready to pitch VC’s and Angels.

The extensively proven benefits of visualization include:

  1. Skill development and maintenance.
  2. Emotional control including maintaining calmness under pressure and increasing confidence.
  3. Enhanced ability to effectively respond to the unexpected.

Visualization has long been used successfully by Olympians, special forces and other professional athletes such as Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Michael Jordan to improve their performance. Former world champion bodybuilder, Hollywood superstar, and former governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, well known for his use of visualization, once said,

When I was very young I visualized myself being and having what it was I wanted. Mentally I never had any doubts about it. The mind is really so incredible. Before I won my first Mr. Universe title, I walked around the tournament like I owned it. The title was already mine. I had won it so many times in my mind that there was no doubt I would win it. Then when I moved on to the movies, the same thing. I visualized myself being a famous actor and earning big money. I could feel and taste success. I just knew it would all happen.”

Retired Navy Seals Commander, Mark Divine, covers the some of the uses and benefits of visualization in his recently published ‘Way of the Seal’, a highly informative and enjoyable read.

It’s a fact that we tend to get what we focus on. When you consistently visualize something , you bring about physical changes to your brain, creating new neural networks that enable you to achieve your goals faster and more effectively. Visualization engages your creative powers and reticular activation system (RAS) to look for solutions and resources to ensure you achieve your goal in the quickest time possible.

The principal reason visualization is so effective is because the primal part of the brain that governs our fear response cannot tell the difference between an actual experience and the future memories you vividly imagine.

The more you can clearly visualize something, the more focused you become and the more likely you will do it well. When you start to create positive future memories of yourself pitching through the correct visualization process, not only will you achieve your desired outcome but you will also find that negative past memories lose their power over how you feel and what you achieve.

There is a great deal of misunderstanding about the process of visualization. It is not positive thinking. And you cannot simply imagine what you want and wait for it to happen. For rapid and dramatic results the visualization technique must be practiced correctly and consistently.

By using visualization as part of your pitch preparation, you will be in the company of the greatest performers on the planet.

As Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius once said

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

Adapted from chapter 13 of ‘Here’s the Pitch: How to Pitch Your Business to Anyone, Get Funded and Win Clients’ by Martin Soorjoo.