afm 2Are you ready to walk “into the room” and pitch to a decision-maker such as an agent, financier, producer, distributor or studio executive?

In prep for the upcoming Asian Film Market running October 5th through the 8th and of course the American Film Market running  November 5th through the 12th, Stephanie Palmer, a former MGM Pictures executive and best-selling author of Good in a Room (featured on ABC, CBS, LA Times and NPR) doles out the best advice she’s gleaned from years on the scene.

Here are her top ten pitching tips to help you in a high-stakes situation.  There are 5 Do’s and 5 Don’ts:

1.  Do prepare for the five stages of the meeting.  If you do not know what the five stages are, you can acquaint yourself here.

2.  Do not talk about who has been attached, was considering, or has been interested in the project.  This is equivalent to saying, “Here is a list of people who have already passed.”

3.  Do not “get down to business.”  Instead, take the time to make small-talk and get to know the decision-maker first.  Remember, business is personal.

4.  Do not “wing” your pitch.  Consider preparation techniques such as writing your pitch out by hand, pitching on video and then watching your performance, and taking a practice meeting with a friend.

AFM Wine Event5.  Do lead with genre.  Specifically, the first few words of your pitch should be something like, “This project is a (GENRE)….”

6.  Do not refer to more than three characters by name.  If other characters need to be mentioned, do so by how they relate to the main characters, e.g., Karin’s best friend, Ryan’s evil twin.

7.  Do prepare for likely questions.  Prepare answers for the most common questions in advance such as, “How did you come up with this idea?” and “What project is this most like?”

8.  Do not argue the point.  If you get a note you don’t like from a decision-maker in an initial meeting, don’t argue.  Instead, just say, “Thanks, let me think about that.”

9.  Do write down the names of the decision-makers you meet.  That way, you won’t suffer the fate of, “I had a great meeting, but I can’t remember his or her name….”

10.  Do adapt to patterns of feedback.  Consider all of the notes you are receiving, look for patterns, and discover ways to improve your pitch, your project, or both.

You can meet Stephanie at the AFM 2014 Pitch Conference.

Stephanie Palmer

Stephanie Palmer helps film and TV writers pitch and sell their work. She was a studio executive at MGM and is the author of Good in a Room. She has been featured on the Today Show, NPR, and the LA Times. Find out more at

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