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Pitching 101: preparing and delivering a solid business pitch

Wed, 10 April 2019

Find out how to pitch your business like a pro with these tips for success.
Like it or not, the pitch process is an essential part of securing funding for your business. You only have a short time in which to convince potential investors of its value. Get it right, and you’ve taken an important step on the road to success. Under-perform, and you may lose out on an opportunity. Preparation is vital, so here are some points to consider when putting your pitch and deck together.
 
What problem are you solving?
Begin by reminding yourself that the people you’ll be presenting to will probably have a limited understanding of you, your company, and your proposition. It’s important, therefore, to revisit the reason behind your idea – the problem it’s solving. Every single point you make in your presentation should always come back to this.
 
Also, just because they might not know much about you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your homework on them. Knowing the roles, careers, and interests of the people you’re speaking to will give you some guidance as to how informed they are on the sector you work in. The likelihood is that they’ll have a mixed understanding, so keep your language simple and considered, and avoid unnecessary technical jargon.
 
Words matter
Condensing your business proposition and entire vision into a ten-minute pitch is no easy task. By asking yourself whether each point you plan to make is absolutely core to your business model, you’ll probably surprise yourself with how much you’re able to cut out.
 
Cut down on the text, too, to avoid reading the words straight from the slides. The same goes for data and statistics. They’re an excellent way of demonstrating the size of the problem you’re solving, but providing too many stats will make each stat less punchy and effective. Instead, identify the two or three that make the most impact. Keeping your deck as minimalist as possible will help the judges stay focused on you and what you are saying.
 
Use the power of the pause. It might feel unnatural at first, but pausing for a couple of seconds before beginning your pitch, or in between key points, is a highly effective way of ensuring everyone in the room focuses back on you before you speak.
 
Try to avoid clichés. Describing your proposition as the ‘Airbnb of…’ or the ‘Uber of…’ may be an easy way of relating to an audience what you’re doing, but these phrases can often be misused. Try to describe your business model with a memorable analogy instead.
 
Try not to get too bogged down in memorising every single word of your pitch in minute detail; this usually results in focusing less on engaging with your audience. What’s more, forgetting a line and having to go off-script can force you into a panic. It’s better instead to focus on organising the order in which you’ll cover off the key points.
 
Practice makes perfect
Remember that the pitch doesn’t end when your presentation does. You’re likely to face a round of Q&A from the judges once you’ve finished, so anticipating any difficult questions you might be asked will help you feel prepared. You could ask a friend to play devil’s advocate and ask you the most contentious questions they can think of. And practice your pitch in front of as many different types of people as you can, to ensure you’re covering all bases.
 
Indeed, you can’t get enough practice. Whether it’s in front of your friends, your mirror, or even your dog, take every opportunity to practice your pitch. Make sure you deliver it with the same gusto you plan to deliver it with on the day. Try filming yourself. It might feel a bit awkward, but you’d be surprised how many little subconscious movements you’ll notice, such as fiddling with your clothes or touching your hair.
 
Most importantly, demonstrate your passion for what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Tell a story the audience can connect with – let them know why what you’re doing matters to you.
 
A strong business proposal is good, but a strong business proposal effectively communicated is far better. Time spent preparing your pitch can be a real investment in the future of your business.

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