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It’s never terribly pleasant, the ‘pitch’. All eyes are on you, the up-and-coming entrepreneur, and it feels like the room is looking for any excuse to stop listening. Oh god, is that a rejection on the horizon?
No matter how successful you might be, or might become, developing pitching skills should always be a priority - and it’s something you can always improve with practice (so keep churning out those brilliant ideas!) And with ten of the best ways you can overcome common pitfalls and blow away your audience, you’ll be solid gold.
You may be out there on your own, but you can bring the audience with you on a journey.
What is your story? How did you did you land your company idea? How are you getting there?
An overload of stats and data won’t do much to inspire investors or capture their imagination - so be real with them.
“This product will monetize native advertising and demonstrate viral performance in learnings through a multi-platform, gamified UX.”
If your pitch is loaded with every marketing buzzword you can muster, please stop it! No-one has a clue what you’re trying to say, or what point you’re making. (And unless you’re Noiseworks, stop telling people you’ll ‘reach out’ while you’re at it.)
Pitching is nerve-wracking, and it is easy to fill gaps with buzzwords, but you’re better off concentrating on the simplest way you can describe your venture, so that everyone from a big-wig investor to your grandma could understand what it is and how they could benefit.
Yes, your idea is cool, and it might be the next revolutionary product or service the world didn’t know it needed. However, you will always be asked this question, no matter what:
Who are your competitors?
Even if there are none, you need to be able to demonstrate this. In all likelihood, you will have competitors in some capacity, and you need to be able to convince stakeholders that you are doing it differently, and doing it better.
Oh, and do you know what looks really bad? If someone in the room tells you about a competitor that you haven’t brought up. Research!
The pitch is all about conjuring interest and excitement, and there’s nothing exciting about a speech that drones on and on and on.
It’s important to remember that you don’t need to explain every single detail of your company in this pitch. Pick out the most unique bits, and make sure you leave room for questions.
Let’s say you’re a founder who is technology-obsessed, and thrives on the ‘how’ of why something works. This will probably lead you down a rabbit hole of jargon if you include too much in your pitch.
Some people will be like you, and want to hear that stuff, but many just want to know how it benefits them. Spend less on the ‘how’ it works, and more on ‘why’ your customers need it in their lives.
An audience knows when you’re distracted, or simply not working to engage them. This can signal a bit of a switch-off to your whole thing.
You should be practicing your presentation before it gets in front of investors, and that will help you tear your eyes away from each slide as you roll through. Your passion needs to carry through and infect others, and if you can’t do it without cue cards, it won’t go over as well as it otherwise could.
Some entrepreneurs forget to sell one of the most important, unique and vital assets in their company - their team!
If there’s one thing your competitors don’t have, it’s your dream team chugging along in the background helping everything come to fruition. Emphasize the skill-set they bring, their experience and the achievements they’ve helped mark to date.
Somewhere in your pitch, you need to make your perceived opportunity clear.
There’s oodles of potential in a startup, and part of the magic is that a good one can achieve worldwide success. What is the size of your market? What is the potential? Make this crystal clear in your presentation for a sparkle in the eyes of investors.
Trust us, we get it - this is your baby, and it hurts to get grilled sometimes.
The thing is, though, most people aren’t trying to piss in your cornflakes when they offer feedback. They are trying to be, a) constructive and b) get to the crux of your offering (and it benefits you to do so!)
It’s human nature to get on the defensive, but take a deep breath and listen. It’s not beneficial to your relationship to get all prickly with a would-be investor.
So you’ve nailed your pitch - well done! Investors seem interested, and your gut is telling you it went well.
But, nothing really seems to come of it, or reactions are slow. Why?
It’s possible you didn’t actually ask something of your audience. Did you say what you wanted or what you’re expecting from the relationship?
Read the room and end on a positive, affirmative call to action:
“We’re looking for an initial investment of $100,000. Can I invite you for lunch next week?”
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