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Published: Jan 09, 2019 7 min read
Photo illustration for Money by Sarina Finkelstein; Getty Images (1)

When you're planning to ask for a raise, the most important thing to rehearse is not what you think.

You’re probably obsessing over talking numbers with your boss, but how you begin the conversation and establish your case is far more important — and often less stressful to prepare for.

I’m a passionate producer, and I'm often asking for funding or development deals from places like Comedy Central and HBO — and I always lead with what’s amazing. For example, “I know this film is a going to be a hit and the talent we have attached will insure it. I am also fully committed to getting it into theaters around the country. Distribution is key and we are good to go. And I can see us on the red carpet together.”

I paint the picture of success.

But then I say something a bit risky; because I’m required by the FTC to make it clear most people never get paid back, I lay it out on the table. “But I’m willing to double down if you are,” I argue. “This movie is gonna be awesome to invest in and the party on opening night where you get to hang with Kate Winslet is gonna be epic.”

I raised $25,000 in one meeting, because I led with what’s interesting and emotional about it. I was confident and unapologetic about my ability to deliver. And I got the investor to feel excited.

Asking for money for a raise or an investment needs to be rehearsed just like the scene from a play. Make it clear that NOT giving you the money is a big mistake, huge. (Pretty Woman reference.)

Here’s how to write the perfect pitch:

1. Start by writing your script

Yep, just like actors rehearse from a script, so will you. The good news is, this is going to guarantee you are able to move past that fear and ask for that well-deserved raise or promotion. Moving past the fear means using the techniques of Objective and Action, in your asks and in your pitches. You have something to do, you are going after your objective relentlessly, so there is no time for fear.

Fear comes from being in your head and worrying about no. When you have an objective of keeping their attention and then applying the action (what they will get out of it) you don’t have room in your brain for fear. You are going after the raise, the investment, the promotion. You are clear and fear is not invited to the party.

An investor on the fence about investing in my musical, asked me the question after a long pitch: Are you sure this is going to be good for me?

My fear would have said, “I can’t promise this, but I think so.” My clarity and certainly, said “Without question.”

2. Share Your Love

This is the part where you get to share how much you love your job and the projects you've been working on. The why you love working with your team and the company and all the accomplishments you’ve made. Be sure to incorporate metrics and measurements that can add to your accomplishments.

Always start with how you feel about working there, because emotions evoke emotions.

“Being able to work here gives me a real sense of purpose and community. I know what we are doing together is making a difference in the world.”


“I’m super psyched with our collaboration and the freedom and respect I feel from working here and with you and our team.”

Then move onto a success attributed to you, but directly related to the company.

“I’m thrilled to see that my efforts have helped us land four new clients in the last year."

You’re exhibiting teamship and offering specific numbers (“four new clients”) to illustrate your contributions and how you’ve led growth at the company.

3. Get a Scene Partner

Then move into the ask, (I know it sounds terrifying) but you will rehearse this script under mild pressure, with your friend, partner, or spouse, so that you have said the words aloud in front of someone. This is super important; you must say the words out loud in front of another human being, not a mirror and not your dog. This kind of rehearsal disconnects your words from the fear so you can confidently speak them.

For example: “I’m looking forward to our ongoing collaboration and I have no doubt that we have so much more to accomplish together. So let’s talk money. I’m ready to be making X and I’d love to know you are on board.”

Then, and this is another tip that is super important. WAIT. You have just asked for a raise. Do not back pedal because you feel uncomfortable. Allow your boss to hear you, process what you have said, and then respond.

Part of getting past the fear of asking for a raise is also getting past the fear of waiting for the answer.

You got this! Write that award winning script, give that standing ovation worthy performance and take it all the way to the bank.

Tricia Brouk is an award winning director, writer, filmmaker,TEDx Producer and the Executive Director of Speakers Who Dare in New York. For more on the art of public speaking and the business of how to speak, subscribe to Tricia's podcast "The Big Talk" on iTunes.