A Pitch Competition and Writing 1,000 Words a Day

August 3, 2014 By Tom

I live in a sort of odd world where I’m surrounded by for-profit start-ups between my office and my social setting and I get to watch those folks do things I’ve never really had to do for the non-profit.  One of the big things in the start-up for-profit world is called a “Pitch Competition”, where several different speakers give a short speech on what they’re concept is and why investors and the community should support it.  While the pitch concept is gaining some traction in the non-profit community with events like 5×5, it’s still a rarity to find yourself competing against another non-profit and their ideas.

mid-pitch to the crowd

And yet, that’s exactly what I found myself doing on Thursday evening.  It was an event put on by the Indiana University SPEA program and was an effort for them to discuss micro finance for different organizations and the impact “small” dollars can have.  They generously asked me to be one of three organizations that pitched in the competition.  The format was simple, each patron paid $5 to get in the door and get a vote, each organization had 10 minutes to present based on speech alone (no slide deck, no props), the winning organization was the one with the most votes and took home the door fees as the grand prize to further the mission.

With my efforts to grow my public speaking resume and experience, I figured this was a great way to do it.  There was no podium, no multimedia to hide behind, it was me on my feet in front of a room full of strangers who had no idea what Nine13sports was before I presented.  I was up against two very solid organizations, one that focuses on literacy in Central Indiana and another that focuses on international services.  I prepped my speech concept in the shower a couple of hours before the event (I can’t be the only one that practices my speech and talking points in the shower, right?), and gave it a whirl.

And I nailed it, I felt the most confident I have in front of a crowd, my speech cadence was perfect, my inflection was consistent and powerful, I felt the energy from the audience and their engagement.  Eyeballs were on me, not cell phones, not notebooks, but everyone was engaged with what I was saying and doing.  It felt awesome, it felt great to not be nervous and it all just clicked.

After the votes were in, it was clear it clicked for everyone else as well.  While it was close on the votes, my pitch for Nine13 won the evening and allowed me to score a victory for the organization.  It was just the confidence builder I needed as I continue to be more aggressive with doing speaking and building myself into a keynote presenter on several different topics.  More importantly, Nine13 got some good cash that will go towards our mission of getting kids riding bikes.

The confidence from that was also a great inspiration for me to sit down and continue to work on the book.  I’m about 9,000 words into it with a target of 75,000 total words–the average length of this style of book in current publication.  I’ve got a goal to have the first draft of it completed by October and I’m making it my current goal to get through a minimum of 7,000 words a week/1,000 words per day to continue to chip away at it.  I’ve got the chapters laid out in terms of title, content and conceptual implementation.  As I continue to refine it, I’ll post some short sections from it here to highlight the style of the writing and some of the themes within it.  I think I’m finding a pretty good balance of all the different facets of life over the last few years and am creating a product that I will be very proud to call my own as it gets completed.

The other reality of writing this is realizing I also have some good material for a book more streamlined for the non-profit industry.  This fits  well with my goal of really speaking on two totally different topics depending on the setting; the first being my life story and surviving the unsurvivable and finding yourself along the way and the second being creating a non-profit that isn’t the industry standard and challenging industry norms.  Don’t be surprised if I wind up ultimately trying to do two books, one that aligns with each area of speaking focus.

Feeling good, confident, and ready to spend some serious time with my laptop in solitary over the next couple of months getting this thing buttoned up and ready for edits.  Fingers crossed.