For me, pitching has never been about persuasion. Engagement, yes. Sizzle, love it. And accuracy above all else. Being truthful isn’t just a moral choice, it also makes for a cleaner pitch. I find I can stop talking when I speak the truth.
It appears I’m not delusional — well, at least not in this. Pamela Meyer has an intriguing TED talk on lie spotting. One of the tip-offs is that liars may prop up a lie by surrounding it with words that mean nothing. In his incredible book, The Gift of Fear, Gavin de Becker talks about the same thing. By the way, this book is a must-read: it teaches you to recognize sociopaths, and I’m only half-joking when I say that’s a survival skill for a Hollywood career. You may not always be able to do something about it, but it’s still good to know when you’re being lied to.
But back to pitching. The other reason to tell the truth is that you speak with a different authority when you do. The only problem is, we often sabotage ourselves with wishy-washy language. This article in the Harvard Business Review is crackerjack in not only identifying weak speech but giving you an idea of what words to use instead.
Because I love it when people agree with me — really, it needs to happen more often — here’s a post by Ramona Defelice Long that has additional good reasons to be truthy in your book pitch. And just for fun, here’s Mr. Truthy himself, Stephen Colbert, pitching his children’s book to none other than Maurice Sendak.