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.
If you want to sell a television show to a network then you should check this out.
Here are some great TV shows ideas that didn’t make it…
CSI: ARIZONA – The crime here is looking like an immigrant.
CHECK INTO CASH – Game show where contestants get cash advances from their payroll checks.
SURVIVOR: JUAREZ – This is a ladies-only game show where no one might win.
AMERICA’S NEXT TOP NARCO – Only one contestant will survive to be Top Narco
THE APPRENTICE NARCO – You don’t get fired… you get fired at.
THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF PICO RIVERA – The title says it all.
LLAMA LATINA – A show about llama farmers and their struggle to raise Spanish-speaking llamas.
DAY-LABORERS WIVES – Sort of like Basketball Wives, but different.
FAMILY GAY – The gay version of Family Guy.
COMPTON SHORE – Similar to Jersey Shore, but tougher.
THE CHAMBELAN – 16 contestants compete for a Quinceañera’s love. (Most of the contestants are over 18, and some are over 30 years old)
All these shows will be hosted by Mario Lopez. There you have it. If you have any good ideas of your own, make sure you post them here. You never know, your idea may just become TV’s next big show. Follow me on Twitter @qreyes and like me on Facebook.
Ever wonder what happens behind the scenes of a cable TV network internal pitch meeting? This is what really happens.