7 Tips to Better Pitching

Do you remember the first time you gave a presentation to a big group? One that really mattered? Did your knees knock? Did your mouth go dry? Did you worry if your presentation would work? And for all that effort, stress and energy expended end up with 3 business cards and no business?

As someone who has been involved in connecting emerging technology companies to markets for much of my career, one of the areas I’ve advised founders and business owners is on how to pitch their product or business. In this case, I was on the opposite side of the table pitching Prezentt at CeBIT Startup.

At position 6 on the list, I was watching others pitch their project and products, excited at the great innovation that is coming out of the startup community across the country.

Moments later I was on stage. My presentation was different to the others in that I was actually showing our technology to deliver the presentation. Prezentt adds online interaction to presentations with the aim of connecting a presenter to their audience. I had a very nervous few seconds waiting for the technology to work – which, thank goodness, it did perfectly.

It is quite a different experience going from coaching others to pitching your own product and really invested in the outcome. Regardless of your experience in pitching, it can be a nerve racking.

Here are a few key points worth bearing in mind to help ensure your next pitch is a success:

Bait the hook

Problems need to be big, and compelling in needing to be solved. Getting people interested from the outset, leaning forward from their chairs and invested in your solution will only happen when you make problem applicable to them.

Stories work the best in bringing the emotional aspect in. Pain sells, fear sells. Small incremental improvement doesn’t.

Practice lots, then practice more

It seems obvious but so many people don’t do it. Lots of practice makes it much easier for you to be look confident, be relaxed and flexible in your delivery. This sets you on a great path from the start. Video yourself – it can be really illuminating, and give you so many ideas on lot of little improvements.

The questions you get indicate how well you have done

Great questions allow you to reinforce your argument, expand further and provide more proof. Remember that if the question indicates they don’t understand your product, then you haven’t explained well enough (it isn’t the fault of the asker).

Expect contradictory advice and contradictory questions – and that is ok. Different people will have different perspectives. As an entrepreneur, you have to decide which is right.

Practice answering really tough questions

This is the one area that many people don’t practice as much as they should. A 5 minute pitch normally has at least that time again with questions. So half of your pitch in reality is responding to expected and unexpected questions. By practicing with colleagues that are prepared to get a bit Gordon Ramsey on you, you will be prepared.

Tough, in-depth questions indicate serious interest. You want to welcome them – and answer them – really well.

There will be haters – they are your friends

There will be people who want to attack your proposition or poke holes in your approach whether on the panel or in the audience.

Whilst they may not feel like it at the time (particularly if they are posting live on social media) they are your friends. The brutal feedback they provide helps you get better faster.

The audience is in your corner – they want you to succeed

As you look out to your audience, you will see plenty of encouragement – just what you need if you are on the ropes. The entrepreneur is ALWAYS the good guy, so take a breath, draw a bit of positive energy from these people and press on!

The trump card in any pitch is traction

The pitches that win show significant traction, even if at an early stage. Traction is the answer to nearly any tough question, and the validation of your business. Talk about traction, and make sure you have this ready for tough questions.

Passion, energy and enthusiasm will carry you an important part of the way when you pitch. Clarity and laser light focus – and the ability to answer questions under fire are even more necessary. Best of luck with your next pitch!

Emergination can help you with pitch development, coaching and practice. We typically do this through half day or full day sessions to workshop through your pitch, really nail the messaging and structure, and help you to make it your own. Contact us to find out how we can help you nail your pitch.

You can read Business News’ article on Pitching to Perth Angels here.