Workshop hones pitching skills

Entrepreneurs from all over the Cape Metro converged at False Bay College in Khayelitsha to polish their pitching skills with the help of different companies including tertiary schools.

A workshop held on Saturday October 8 equipped entrepreneurs with the skills to pitch their ideas and access the funding that will help them make their business dreams a reality.

The Pitch and Polish workshop, sponsored by Engen, was hosted at the campus of False Bay College in Khayelitsha.

Many of those at the workshop conceded that running a business could be tough and that the most difficult part of starting a business was pitching to get funding for the business.

Participants said the workshop taught them that pitching required a lot of confidence, determination, practice and above all, good preparation.

Bronwyn Echardt, project manager at the business incubator Raizcorp, said it was important that entrepreneurs overcame their fears.

She said many entrepreneurs sometimes suffered acute vocal paralysis and “terror pitch-a’phobia”. But, she said, there was a cure for that-systematic desensitisation.

“It is based on the principles of behaviour modification which means that by using basic learning techniques you can change your current condition.

“That is a win for the pitch-a-phobia,” said. Ms Echardt confirmed that she also used that system to overcome her own paralysing phobia.

And while a certain amount of nervousness is healthy, this fear could be debilitating, she added.

The trick, she said, is to confront it using a hierarchical system whereby each level is a small step towards overcoming fear. “You cannot go from zero to hero in 60 seconds as you will fail and the fear will intensify.

“You have to take a small steps, each systematically reducing the fear,” she explained, giving the entrepreneurs tips to create this “hierarchy” and to develop tolerance for pitching and overcoming fear.

Khaulele E Waste owner Phumla Mpekula-Jali praised the workshop, describing it as an “eye-opener.

She said before the workshop she had no marketing strategy.

“That is what we need as entrepreneurs, knowledge. This workshop was long overdue for people like me who just started business without a lot of knowledge,” she said.

Another participant, Thuleka Duze, who is an entrepreneur and a student at Stellenbosch University, said the guidance and advice helped her and that the workshop had come at the right time for her because her final examination included pitching.

“It was an amazing workshop to be at. It helped me to know a couple of important points about pitching.

“I now know how to address people and how to stand in front of them, (and about) my body language.

“It taught us things that we often take for granted.

“It taught us things that are important to investors and that we need to know the story behind the business,” she said.

Ms Duze, the owner and founder of ATG Ekasi, a handbag and print company based in Cape Town, encouraged aspiring entrepreneurs and those who own business to take advantage of such workshops.