This is it! You have a meeting with a TV network. Congratulations! You’ve made it a lot further than most of the people with TV show ideas. So how do you not ruin this crucial moment? Simple. Just be yourself.
During the meeting don’t try to be something you are not. Network executives are regular people like you and me and they will see through someone who is disingenuous. Relax and trust in yourself and your idea. You didn’t come all this way to fail.
EXTREMELY IMPORTANT: The people in the meeting are analyzing everything YOU do. If you have a great idea that you are pitching them, how you present this idea to them will be key. Here are some tips to maximize your meeting.
Be Light and Funny – Break the ice so that they feel comfortable. This doesn’t meant you have to be hilarious (even though that might help), but at least tell them a joke. If it’s not funny, that’s okay, at least they will appreciate your attempt at lighting up the mood. Don’t get too intense, keep it light. Let them feel they don’t have to react to you, instead that they can just be themselves.
Get to the Point – Don’t waste people’s time with long, boring stories about nothingness. Take advantage of every second of your meeting. This is valuable time and you should use it to sell them you idea.
Don’t Make It Seem Like A Sale – Even though you are selling them the idea, don’t make it seem like it’s a sale. That’s pretty much a regular rule for any salesperson (which you are at this point). You need to make it sound like an organic conversation about your idea.
Make Your Point and Move On – Once you have concisely presented your point, and shown them any relevant materials (video presentation, etc.), then it’s time to move on! You have no idea how many people talk themselves out of opportunities and sure sales because they keep talking more than they need. Don’t gratuitously give information that they don’t need or want. RULE – If they don’t ask, you don’t answer.
End the Meeting – Before they get tired of you, after you think you’ve made all your points, thank them for their time and ask if they have any questions. If they have questions, answer them in short answers. Don’t elaborate when you don’t need to do so. If they don’t have any questions, then shake their hands and be on your way.
Once you leave the meeting you will probably feel relieved and that you made a ton of mistakes. Don’t take it personal if the meeting didn’t go as you planned, because most likely it won’t. Regardless of whether they buy your idea or not, you’ve done great! The learning experience will be more than valuable and the more meetings you get, the better you’ll get at conducting them.
Once you have your idea ready to go, it’s time to set up a meeting, but oh-oh, how do you get this done? There are a few traditional ways of getting this done, but don’t be afraid to try your own creative methods of setting up a meeting. Your goal should be to have the opportunity to successfully pitch your idea.
Beyond coming up with the idea, the second most creative thing you will probably have to face when pitching an idea to a TV network is in how you get a meeting. Getting a meeting is an artwork of its own, and you must chose what works for you. There is no right or wrong way to get a meeting, as long as you get to successfully pitch an idea. So here are some tips, but be creative and think beyond what other people have done. Maybe what works for you hasn’t been done yet!
1) Get an Agent, Manager or Attorney – There are many articles online on how to get one of these key people who will (or should) be able to set a meeting for you. Find out how to get one, and get one if you can. This probably will be your easiest way in the door.
2) Contact the Networks Directly – This method is quite tricky and difficult. You don’t want to ruin your chance of a meeting if you seem unaware of what are the guidelines to set up a meeting with the network. You just can’t call up and ask to speak with the programming executive (who’s usually the person who will evaluate your idea) and expect him or her to say, sure come in this afternoon. Yet, to contradict myself, this has happened before, but it is very rare. First, you probably won’t get them on the phone. You most likely will get an assistant of some sort. TREAT THE ASSISTANT WELL! They hold the power of connecting you to the person that you need.
3) Attend Networking Events – This method is a bit difficult as well, but a lot safer, since you’ll hopefully be in a business environment where meeting solicitations are common.
4) Stalk The Network Executive – I suggest you DON’T go this route.
Understanding the true PURPOSE of TV networks will ensure that you maximize your chances to successfully pitch your TV show idea.
Television was invented many years ago and it has undergone much evolution since it’s introduction to the world. The technical aspects of this great invention are irrelevant, however, for what matters in relation to pitching a TV show idea is your understanding of the PURPOSE that television has in today’s society.
A television set doesn’t work on it’s own. It needs CONTENT. This content is managed and distributed through television networks. A TELEVISION NETWORK is the organized system of personnel that uses creative and technological tools to create, develop, produce and distribute content in order to attract an AUDIENCE.
One of the most important parts that you need to understand about television networks is its audience. The audience is what makes or break a network. Everyone working at a network usually has a direction about what is the network’s target audience; and the audience usually patronizes a network that provides them with content which they find relevant.
If you plan to have any success when pitching a TV show you MUST understand what is the composition of the network’s audience. It will be difficult to sell a fictional crime show to the Food Network or a robot-fighting show to Animal Planet. I’m not saying it would be impossible, but I am saying it would be extremely difficult. So knowing your TV network’s audience will ensure you don’t waste the network’s time or your time.
Another important factor that you MUST understand is that a television network’s purpose is to SELL ADVERTISING. Companies that buy AIR TIME on TV network’s are looking to reach that network’s audience. Advertisers are a TV Network’s main source of revenue, and they’re the one’s who will ADVERTISE A PRODUCT either through commercials or product placement or integration.
So where does your show fit into place? Simple: Your show attracts the audience that advertisers want, therefore your show becomes the tool that TV Networks NEED in order to succeed.Understand your show’s potential audience and target your idea towards the networks that cater to that audience. Within all of this, make sure you keep in mind that the main goal of your show is to SELL ADVERTISING.