Give Yourself (and Your Pitch) the Greatest Opportunity to Succeed
You have a tremendous product/service that addresses a current or upcoming problem. You are the person/team to build the company that provides the solution. However, if you cannot convincingly convey this information, odds are that you are not going to get others to help/fund you. If this is, unfortunately, the case, you’ll be the business equivalent of the screenwriter who has a spellbinding script for a blockbuster movie that never gets made.
So how do you successfully create, develop, and deliver your information? There are certainly several ways to accomplish this. This is simply one way, and it works!
Thinking about your presentation
In the case of pitching to investors, you need to fashion your presentation with two viewpoints in mind.
One is, of course, from the potential customer’s viewpoint, including:
- what their problem is
- how it’s affecting their life
- how your solution will help them, change their life, or make their life easier.
The other viewpoint is that of the investor. This includes:
- what the problem is
- your solution to that problem
- how your solution differs from others
- the financial feasibility of your solution
- the ability of you/your team to execute the plan.
Conveying your ideas
As human beings, we learn, comprehend, and remember through stories. To get your listeners engaged, to have them see how you are going to provide a rewarding solution to a pressing problem, tell them a story.
To see your product/service as a story, think of it this way.
- who/what’s the villain? (the problem you’re addressing)
- what is the villain threatening to do or is already doing?
- what does this look like?
- what does this feel like?
- who/what’s the hero? (your product/service)
- what obstacles does the hero have to overcome? (competition? funding? awareness? marketing?)
- what superpower does the hero need? (what addresses those above?)
- how is the hero going to battle the villain? (how will your solution defeat the problem and thrive?)
- how will things be better when the hero overcomes the villain (what will the outcome look like?)
Rehearsing is key
Once you’ve created your presentation, it’s time to rehearse. I know, this isn’t necessarily fun, but it is necessary. Think about it. Would an actor go in front of an audience without rehearsing? Of course not.
People often ask, “How many times do I need to rehearse?” The easy answer is to rehearse until you know your presentation like you know your favorite song. You don’t, however, need to know it word-for-word. In fact, you don’t want to. But you definitely want to know by heart your concepts and their content.
Remember your phone
Here’s a great way to rehearse. Before you begin, prop up your phone and put it on video record. Now rehearse. When you’re done, play the recording, but do it this way.
First, play it with your phone facing down. This way, you’ll concentrate on your voice. Make notes about how you sound and if there are changes that you want to make.
Second, off the sound and watch it this time. By doing this, you’ll concentrate on your body language and the messages it is sending. Make notes about how you look and if there are changes that you want to make.
Third, play it as you normally would, watching and listening. Again make notes about anything you want to enhance, delete, or otherwise change.
Now it’s time for slides
Once you have developed, rehearsed and refined your presentation, it’s time to create your slide deck. That’s right! To build an engaging, compelling presentation, you select/create your slides after you’ve developed your presentation. Unfortunately, most people do it the other way around, usually resulting in the boring “I want to stick a rusty fork in my eye” presentations we see all too often.
Before we go any further, please understand this. There is no such thing as a PowerPoint presentation There are only slide decks, and these slide decks merely support your presentations.
Many people create too many slides. This is a waste of your time and your audience’s interest and patience. So how many is enough? Well, enough to get the job done, but not so many that they do more harm than good. As it is with many things in life, less is more.
Pitching is speaking, not reading
Do not, do not, do not use your slides as a teleprompter. Reading your slides reeks of being unprepared, and if people think you didn’t prepare for your pitch, they most likely aren’t going to want to reward you.
And other than having numerous bullets on slides so you remember what to say (which you don’t want to do), why would you have them there? They don’t benefit your listeners. Think about it, having a bunch of bullets on slides is the equivalent to holding up your handwritten notes for your audience to read, every time you convey a new thought. You wouldn’t do it with your handwritten notes, so don’t do it with your slides. Instead, use slides to support your major points.
The other reason you want to know your pitch well and not rely on slides as a teleprompter is the possibility of a technical problem. Be prepared for everything, including having to pitch without technology.
Take it live
Now that you’ve developed your entire presentation, rehearsed it, revised it, and rehearsed it again, you’re ready to present it in front of people (family/friends/business associates). You don’t want to wait until your actual presentation to present it in front of people for the first time. Do this until you are comfortable with it.
Have people ask questions so you learn how to best respond to questions your audience may ask you; again, you don’t want the real thing to be the first time you try this.
Memorize two things
Earlier, I said that you don’t memorize each word, that you want to get to know your concepts and speak to them. This is absolutely true. You should, however, develop a powerful one- or two-sentence opening and closing and, for greatest impact, memorize them.
Memorizing your opening helps you get off to a strong start, immediately engaging your audience. Memorizing your closing delivers a compelling ending that drives home your point.
Perhaps the most difficult thing
The day of your presentation, avoid caffeine and sugar. Both get your body and mind amped up at a time when you’re trying to get them to relax. Also, refrain from alcohol for 48 hours before your presentation. It metabolizes into sugar, also leading to more body and brain activity than you’ll want when it comes time for you to present.
Being an entrepreneur means that you’ll be constantly telling others about the product, service, or company that you have created. Therefore, knowing how to effectively convey that information is paramount. Follow these suggestions and give yourself the greatest opportunity to succeed!