I'm most nervous about pitching, but I think this is natural. One psych-out method I'm going to be practicing on myself is this:
Pretend you've run into a friend at Starbucks. You only have about five minutes, but you're dying to tell your friend this story about something awesome that just happened to you.
At our last LARA-RWA meeting on pitching, writer/actor/director Lee Michael Cohn went over this and other tips for a successful pitch.
I've also been referring to Laurie Campbell's essay called Ten Minutes to Glory: Your Editor/Agent Pitch. Using Debra Dixon's Goal-Motivation-Conflict model, Campbell describes the process of building a pitch that hits all the sweet spots your editor or agent is looking for. The essay offers lots of practical information like
Though I feel a bit out of my wheelhouse, I don't feel totally lost. As I sit here making edits to the manuscript, I'm reminded how much I love my characters (Sam and Eve), my setting (Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands), and my story ("A sexy fisherman with a guilty secret falls in love with a tsunami survivor who's still running for her life. When Eve's whole world has been swept away, is troubled Sam the right man to help her start again?").If you're going to make your pitch during an individual appointment, try to tell the story in four to six minutes. You can really pique her interest in that much time, and it'll still give you another few minutes to answer questions. When writing your speech, keep in mind that you can speak about 160 words during one minute.
I guess all that's left to do is get my professional duds and game face on. Time to advocate for a great story! Adelante!