As an LA-based indie production company, we constantly find ourselves both pitching and being pitched on projects ranging from feature films to webisodes.

Want to make your pitch more effective? Here are five ways to do it:

1. It’s a conversation.

Yes, you’ll be doing most of the talking, but the best pitches feel less like performance and more like an intimate discussion. Treat it as your chance to share an idea you love with a receptive audience. And resist introducing visual elements (lookbooks, sizzle reels, etc.) until after your pitch so the focus stays on you. Never forget, you are the show!

2. Don’t write it down.

A pitch isn’t something to memorize and recite. Tell it like a story. Focus on the important beats and use those as your guide. This will keep each pitch fresh and organically tailored to its target.  Don’t use notes; if you need a mnemonic, try a visual map to aid memory.

3. Enthusiasm is key!

Excitement is contagious. If you’re not excited, why should they be? If you drone on and on, your audience will lose interest. Modulate your voice, make eye contact, and keep your listeners attentive and invested.

4. Hook ‘em.

What’s the most fascinating element of your story? What drew you to it in the first place? That’s where you start your pitch. The best hooks are personal stories. They automatically create that intimate atmosphere, and typically contain universal elements that will immediately engage your listeners.

5. Finish strong.

Wrap it up by answering the questions, “Why this? Why now?” What is the market for this film? How will it find an audience? What is it about this story that makes it both relatable and relevant to audiences today? If you can’t answer these questions in advance of your pitch, you’re doomed. Also, be ready for follow-up questions. The Q & A can be the most productive part of the pitch, and is often where the real conversation starts.