To make your next pitch a success, bear these five things in mind.
Being able to convince people of your ideas is a crucial skill. And as more and more people are starting up, standing out from the crowd is as important as ever. Whether you’re raising funding, recruiting top talent, or building a network of collaborators, you need a concise and persuasive pitch. Entrepreneurs – do your research, understand what’s expected of you, and pitch accordingly!
1. Know your purpose
There’s so much material out there on what entrepreneurs should include in their pitches. Before you overwhelm yourself with it, think about why you want to pitch your idea. Think about your desired outcome, too. What are your personal and professional reasons for pitching? Your audience will always want to know your intentions, so before you step out in front of them, make sure this is crystal clear.
Action: Take 5-10 minutes to create a list of your personal and professional reasons for pitching.
2. Focus on your audience
Effective communication is always receiver-orientated. Gain empathy for your audience by asking yourself who exactly they are – who are you pitching to? This is the only way to align your intentions with their needs. Ultimately, the pitch is more about them than you.
Action: Note down who’ll be sitting in front of you and divide this audience into segments. Prioritise the most important group. What is their specific background and depth of knowledge, and what are their business objectives?
3. Simplicity is key
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” This Albert Einstein quote sure holds a lot of truth! Distill your thoughts down into easily digestible core messages, as if you were explaining the idea to your grandma. If you have a clear picture of it, your audience will too. While doing this, be aware that every audience can only process a limited amount of information. A basic guideline in PR is the rule of three. What are the three key points or takeaways that you want your audience to remember? If you overwhelm them with too much information, you’ll lose their attention. To put it simply, the pitch should include details on the company, team, market, solution, business model, customers, competition, financial overview, funding, vision, and, of course, a demo – or at least a mockup.
Action: Create some catchy messages for your pitch. Think of them as headlines in a newspaper.
4. Practice (and storytelling) makes perfect
Just like a comedian rehearses for a show or an athlete trains for a competition, you should practice your pitch. It’s critical that you bring the same level of energy and passion to the sixth pitch as you brought to the first. Believe that you’re going to succeed and show your audience how freakin’ excited you are about your solution.
In the words of Andrew Scott from TechCrunch: “Humans are emotional animals; yes even investors. Half your challenge is to engage the audience within the first 5-10 seconds before their heads tip back down to phones and laptops.” Remember: storytelling is the oldest way of communicating information that humans still use today.
Action: Find a quiet room and create an environment that’s as close as possible to pitch day. Rehearse your pitch and invite colleagues to give feedback.
5. Show your team
A great idea doesn’t determine whether a startup will or won’t succeed – but the team does. Investors often look to be persuaded by the abilities of the team rather than by the idea itself. Investor and entrepreneur Bryan Stolle wrote about this very issue in Forbes. “So why did 2/3 of the pitching companies I judged describe their team’s experience and capabilities by simply showing a slide full of logos for all the places where people on the team worked?” Instead, Bryan proposes the following approach: “When you present the team, tell the judges why each team member you mention (and you have hired) is relevant and vital to the company’s success. If you have a killer team, brag about it!”