If you have ever sat through a bad presentation, you will know how easily you can spot bad habits that can destroy a perfectly good business idea. These can include waffling, pointing out everything on screen, and going too fast or too slowly. Doing any of these will quickly lose your audience’s attention, and you will walk away without any interest from investors. Let’s explore a few ways to get rid of those bad habits and ensure a successful pitch.
Storytelling is scientifically proven to capture a listener’s attention and hold it. Everyone loves a good story, even the most data-driven investors. Your story should tell your audience how your products or services solve a problem in the marketplace. However, for the solution to have value to your audience, they need to be able to identify with the problem.
Keep it simple and realistic. In the end, stories are what people will remember after they’ve walked away from you. Later in the module, we will go into more detail on how to make a compelling story.
Don Dodge says, “If they’re not interested in the problem you’re solving, they’re not interested in your solution either.” He gives more more useful tips in this video.
In your pitch, you don’t need to address every aspect of your business plan, as this will make you appear anxious, tense, and nervous. Understanding investors’ concerns will help you deliver a more targeted, compelling, and thought-provoking pitch. This means that key sections need to be prioritised in your pitch, such as statistical data that support your idea and the businesses performance in the current market. Remember, when you’re giving a pitch, less is more.
Usually, you will be given a twenty-minute slot for your pitch. Never run over the time slot given to you, as this is an easy way to irritate and deter your potential investors. According to Carmine Gallo, your audience’s attention span is pretty dismal: 12 – 18 minutes, at the most! Your pitch absolutely must address the key aspects of your business idea so that investors don’t only understand what you’re solving, but also want to get involved immediately.
The following infographic explains how to structure a pitch when you have a very short amount of time to present. These types of presentations are known as an elevator pitches.
Be concise, lucid and clear. Avoid asking and taking questions until the end, as this can distract you from your purpose and detract from the power of your pitch, or it can lead to subjects you aren’t prepared for. Similarly, your presentation slides should be as uncluttered as possible. A few more guidelines to consider include:
Twenty minutes may seem like a long time, but use it wisely to get your business idea across as clearly and simply as possible. You need to maximise the opportunity to engage with potentially well-connected and interested individuals.
While showing potential investors your actual product is important, the truth is that investors don’t really care about your product as much as they care about the money that your product will make. Business success often comes down to marketing; even if you have an amazing product or service, investors will want to see how you plan to effectively market it.
Your business model tells an investor how your ideas will translate into something economically viable and answer these questions:
Investors are primarily concerned with their ROI and will only take an interest in you and your product if you can answer this question: How will my company make you rich? The answer will be based on your revenue model and how you intend to apply it.
Show exactly how you will reach your targets. Include the information you have about your company that you used to forecast those kinds of sales. Share what your current assumptions are about your business model. Around 40% of your pitch should focus on numbers supporting your revenue model. Know these figures well and be specific about the valuation of your business – how much you need and what you need it for. Be sure also to include the value investors can expect in return within in the next five years.
Investors finance people first and ideas second, so share the successes and traction your team has had since you started your company. Investors want to hear about your first customers, other investments in the company, key media placements, signed letters of intent (LOI) to purchase or partner, product and customer milestones, and key hires. As the owner of your company, you will be expected to lead the sales pitch, so show the investors that you know how to sell them on your business.
Remind your audience that you are the best at what you do. Even if you have been referred to them by a client or another person as being the expert in your field, a reminder will only add to your credibility.
Share your insights and integrity with investors and show your passion and enthusiasm – by anticipating tough questions, you can demonstrate your full array of abilities and traits that investors love to see.
Be prepared with an accurate forecast and know how you can realistically achieve your dream, even if revenue and sales may currently be low or nonexistent. Nancy Duarte suggests starting with describing life as it is. By providing your audience with a baseline for comparison, you can highlight the changes and the difference implementing your idea would make. This will illuminate a gap in the market that investors may never have realised was there in the first place. End your pitch with a strong call to action to your investors, as this will encourage them to engage and act on your business idea.
One of the best ways to illustrate how your product or service is different to your current competitors, and that you understand your competitive landscape, is to present your competition in a matrix format like the one below:
An example of a competition matrix
You won’t get your pitch right every time, and that’s okay. Always be professional and keep calm during your pitch. You need to take investors’ critiques as constructive criticism and try to apply it to your business and future pitches. Failure is an opportunity to re-group, re-invent, and amend your model or plan. Don’t view this as an obstacle or setback, but as a learning experience and an opportunity to adapt. Start the preparation for the next pitch straight after the rejection and apply the lessons you have learned.
Failure is only is stepping-stone to success