‘I am so nervous!’
‘I have butterflies in my stomach!’
‘I am excited to practice in front of a large audience!’
These are just some of the comments I overheard during the first SVP Fast Pitch practice session since our August kick-off. Last Monday, the 21 Fast Pitch semifinalists gathered at Impact Hub Seattle alongside their coaches to practice their pitches onstage for the first time. The room was filled with energy and anticipation as the contestants stepped onto the stage, one after the other, to present. Once in the spotlight, each had five minutes to tell their story and make an impact on the audience: who are they, what is the social problem they are solving, why are they so passionate about the cause, how are they impacting social change, and their ‘ask’ to deliver the change they envision.
Community building, learning, and growth, for the social innovators and coaches alike, are the cornerstones of the SVP Fast Pitch cohort model. During the practice session last week, we all got a first glimpse of the pitches each organization has been working on. There were numerous social issues represented that displayed remarkable creative solutions, passion, purpose and drive.
- How can we eliminate human trafficking in Seattle?
- How can we turn food waste into delicious products?
- How can circus-art improve the mental health of children?
These are just some of the many societal challenges our innovators addressed to an enthusiastic, and at times emotional, audience. As a team coach for SVP Fast Pitch, I felt honored and grateful to witness such an amazing group of innovators sharing their hard work to impact social change. I can safely say that this was the overwhelming response amongst the other audience members as well. “I’m always reminded that there are more problems to solve than one can imagine, but you can’t help but feel grateful that there are so many people willing to dedicate their lives to finding solutions” says longtime Fast Pitch volunteer Michelle Harden.
For the innovators, the opportunity to practice their pitches on stage and create new connections is an invaluable part of their journey. Marium Raza, founder of Exilir and the only college student participating this year says, “I was encouraged by the warm, collaborative atmosphere in the room, and I received really helpful feedback from a variety of perspectives. Even after I gave my pitch, conversations continued, and I got to make some really great connections”. Chanel Hall, program manager of Techbridge Girls Pacific Northwest, adds “I thought the practice session was a great way to gain confidence by presenting in front of the audience. I was very nervous. I’m feeling much more prepared because of the session.”
Last week’s session was just the first of several work sessions taking place in the weeks leading up to the season’s culminating event, the SVP Fast Pitch Final Showdown at University of Washington’s Kane Hall on Saturday, November 10. Ten finalists will present on stage in front of an audience of more than 700 people with a chance to win grants and pro-bono prizes and connect with an auditorium full of champions. The innovators will use what they learned to refine their story and come back next practice session with even stronger pitches. Those of us who have the privilege of supporting them through their journey will keep learning alongside them. We will watch with excitement as pitches evolve, confidence grows and this stellar group of change makers continue to inspire the community at large.
Ready to see the pitches yourself?
Stay Tuned! Final Showdown Tickets are on sale Wed, October 3rd.
Photo Credit: Lisa Bontje
Tove Hoyer is a marketing professional who is dedicated to helping area nonprofits reach their full potential through mentorship and coaching. She joined Fast Pitch as a team coach this year and will be sharing her experience throughout the 2018 season.