Everyone in the business world knows the importance of a pitch. It’s what allows you to communicate your ideas and advocate for your company.
Good pitches are the ones that will actually help you get what you want. You have to adequately prepare and present the information in a way that will compel your listeners to take action.
In this article, we provide 10 steps to giving a good pitch. We specifically focus on how to craft an investment pitch. Then, we will describe how to take this base and apply it to other types of pitches (elevator, sales, etc.).
1. Cut to the Chase
In today’s world, attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. You want to capture your audience’s interest while you still have it. Convince them that what you have to say is worth listening to. This will ensure that they’ll mentally stick around for the rest of your presentation.
How do you accomplish this? Cut to the chase. Give an overview of what you’re going to talk about. State why they should care about your company and how it’ll benefit them.
Include Your Elevator Pitch
You’re probably familiar with elevator pitches. The term comes from the idea of riding in an elevator with a potential investor. You have about 60 seconds to convince them of the value of your company or your ideas.
It’s a good idea to include some sort of elevator pitch in your presentation’s introduction. This will give your audience all the information they need to determine if they should keep listening. Keep it brief while being thorough. Don’t leave them with any big questions on what you’re talking about or trying to accomplish.
2. Prepare Answers to Potential Questions
Investors, with good reasoning, want to know where their money is going. Don’t leave them with any unanswered questions. While you can’t possibly discuss every fine detail in your pitch, you should be prepared to answer any question an investor can throw your way. Be prepared to answer questions like:
- How do you track trends in your market?
- How can I connect with customers who have used your product or service?
- Name a mistake you’ve made in your business thus far and what you’ve learned from it.
- Do you have any mentors or advisors that I can get in contact with?
At all costs, you want to avoid being asked a question you don’t know the answer to.
Even after weeks of preparation, you may be asked a question that you don’t know the answer to or haven’t prepared an answer for. To be prepared for unanticipated questions, follow these tips:
- Remain calm. When presented with a question you don’t know how to answer, don’t panic. You may grow nervous, but don’t allow this nervousness to show.
- Ask a question. If you need clarification on what they’re asking of you, don’t be afraid to speak up. Asking them to expand on what they’ve said may help you address their question.
- Don’t make something up. If you don’t know the answer, don’t make something up in hopes of impressing an investor. Be honest and say you don’t know. We responding with something like, “That is a great question. I will investigate that as soon as I leave this meeting because I would like to know more about that topic myself.”
- Offer relevant information when possible. If you don’t have a direct answer, you can speak up about your ideas surrounding the question at hand.
3. Prepare Supplemental Materials
Though your talking points should be persuasive, it can be beneficial to have the following supplemental materials:
- A slide presentation. A slide presentation can outline concepts and give your investors an easy way to follow along. Keep your presentations to around 10 slides in length. You don’t want to condense too much information on two or three slides, but you also don’t want to overwhelm investors with dozens of them.
- Your product. If possible, bring your product so investors can see what they are buying into.
- A visual representation. If your product is too big or non-tangible, create a visual representation, like a video or graphic, to show investors how your product works.
4. Focus On Telling a Story
While you will want to offer investors specific information regarding your product or service, you don’t need to rely on this information alone.
Your investors likely have other opportunities they are seeking out. Make sure you stand out by telling them the unique story of your company. It isn’t enough to rely on spinning your idea as a “patent-pending, life-changing, premier-class” product. This is every startup company’s approach. Figure out what makes your company and its operations unique, and rely on this background story to leave a lasting impression on your potential investors.
5. Make Sure Your Pitch is Clear
You don’t want to leave any room for confusion when presenting your pitch. It should be comprehensible to someone who isn’t a member of your industry. Try to avoid acronyms, jargon, or technical talk without explaining what you mean.
Rehearse in Front of Others
It can be helpful to practice to yourself. Try recording your voice and listening back. Do you find yourself bored, uninterested, or unable to follow along? It might be time for some tweaks.
If possible, you should also rehearse in front of other people. Ideally, these should be people who aren’t involved in your industry at all. Ask them if they understand the points you are trying to make. If they don’t, ask them what’s confusing about your pitch and where you can make improvements.
6. Address Your Competition
When writing your pitch, you should include some obvious speaking points, like outlining your business model.
One thing that a lot of entrepreneurs forget to include is a section about their competition. Claiming to not have any competitors is a rookie mistake that’s made often. Don’t fall into this trap.
One way you can address your competition is by creating a competition matrix. This kind of table lets investors easily see what you offer compared to competitors, like different payment options and features.
7. Practice, Practice, Practice
You’ve put all this work into building your presentation. Now, you want to make sure you practice it.
Practice Out Loud
You might know your presentation and talking points like the back of your hand. You’ve gone over what you’re going to say countless times in your head.
Don’t wait until the day of the pitch to say everything out loud for the first time. This is the wrong time to realize that it doesn’t sound the same as it did in your head.
Practicing out loud beforehand will allow you to work out the kinks. You’ll see what does and doesn’t work, what fits better where etc. You will also sound more confident in what you are presenting.
Practice the Whole Thing
When rehearsing, you might be tempted to skip over the “easy” parts. You might just focus on what you think are the more important or complex ideas.
This is asking for trouble on presentation day. You want to make sure that you have rehearsed every part of your speech. In addition to sounding prepared and confident, you’ll clearly cover every point you want to hit.
Be Aware of Your Body Language
Up until now, we’ve focused a lot on what you’re going to say. Of course, this is important as it will allow investors to determine if they want to work with you.
How you say what you say, however, is just as important. If your body language doesn’t match what you’re saying, you won’t effectively communicate your points.
Some basic body language tips to keep in mind include:
- Face your audience directly. This will show that you’re present and mindful about keeping them engaged. Turning away or making yourself smaller can indicate a sense of doubt in one’s self.
- Don’t fidget. Naturally, you’re nervous and might want to play with your hair or clothing. Try to keep your hands occupied by making hand gestures when appropriate.
- Avoid a plastered smile. It’s important to smile throughout your presentation, but too much can be overkill. Smile when appropriate, and vary your facial expressions for each topic.
- Keep nodding to a minimum. Nodding is a great way to show empathy and understanding. However, it’s not ideal for presentations where you want to convey authority and strength.
8. Don’t Forget Presentation Day
All of your hard work has led up to this—presentation day. You can follow these tips to get your mind and body prepared:
- Focus on positive thoughts and images. Don’t allow stress or self-doubt to interfere with your pitch. Stay positive by thinking encouraging thoughts and believe in yourself and the ideas you have to share.
- Ensure the meeting room is set up properly. Take some time to ensure any audio or visual equipment is set up and working properly. If you’re pitching to multiple people, make sure there’s adequate seating.
- Take a look in the mirror. Take a few seconds to make sure you’re looking your best. You can straighten out your shirt, secure any loose hair strands, and touch up your makeup.
- Use the restroom. You don’t want anything stopping you from focusing on getting your points across. Make sure you go to the bathroom before starting.
9. Follow Up
If your potential investors need time to think about their next step, give it to them. However, don’t just sit back and wait for a response. Be persistent and follow up. Send an email thanking them for their time. If you don’t get a response right away, don’t interpret this as a “no.” Keep following up until you receive a definitive yes or no response.
10. Tailor Your Pitch Accordingly
If you follow the above 9 steps, you’ll have a great pitch for convincing investors to support you and your company.
Investment pitches aren’t the only kinds of pitches you’ll come across in your business ventures. From elevator to sales pitches, you’ll need a good way to convince people of your products or ideas.
Consider some of these pitches you may need to give one day as a business owner or manager. You can still apply steps 1-9 and adapt them accordingly to your specific needs.
You’ve included an elevator pitch in your investor presentation. However, it’s also good to have one for other purposes.
A general elevator pitch shouldn’t need a presentation or further talking points to be effective. In about 60 seconds, get your ideas across in a thorough yet condensed manner.
With an elevator pitch planned, you’ll be prepared in the event you only have a short time to sell your company or ideas.
This is undoubtedly an important type of pitch. You’re convincing customers of the novelty of your product and, ultimately, getting them to trust your company.
For sales pitches, you’ll want to focus most on how you can benefit the customer. Address their problems and present your product or service as the right solution.
Unlike an investment pitch, you don’t want to talk about the market. They are the market and won’t care about how you go about advertising your company. Stay focused on their needs and how you can benefit them.
You may need to implement a pitch to a future or current employee. With this kind of pitch, you want to communicate the enthusiasm you have for your company. It can be a little more informal than other types of pitches. You want it to be a conversation that invites your employees to become a part of your company’s story. Get them as eager and inspired as you are and focus on bigger-picture ideas.
If this idea sounds crazy to you, hear us out! You may find yourself working with a competitor one day. This can be effective in competing against common enemies, like a big corporation. Or, you can pitch a proposition to find common ground in particular niches.
A competition pitch has the potential to benefit both sides if executed correctly. When presenting your revolutionary ideas to a competitor, remain firm on non-negotiable factors and stay financially aggressive, but don’t be reluctant to compromise when necessary.
With a good base pitch and these tips for adapting it as necessary, you’ll be prepared just about any business situation you encounter.