Seven tips for developing your in-person presentation and making your next pitch a success.
We review hundreds of incubator pitch decks and wanted to share with you what's trending from the detailed feedback we give our participants. You can follow these tips to streamline your delivery from your first practice session. Let us know what's working and not for you below in the comments section.
1. Practice Practice, Practice
It's cliche we know. But seriously, regular improvement oriented pitch practice is key to your success. Nothing else on the list matters without this. Practice as much as you can. If you can find a way to pitch to strangers, it will more closely simulate the environment you will be in when pitching your company to investors for real. Practice how you are going to actually present. If you are in person during the pitch, then make sure you are in person during the practice sessions. Utilize video conferencing technology to help break down barriers in time and location when practicing and create a process to do the same for investors when you do your road show. Also make sure you stand when you deliver your practice pitch, and don't read speaker notes. Film yourself or at the very least record yourself so you can start to hear the story and how you are telling it. Don't worry about how your voice sounds or how you look - 95% of this battle is showing up and making it regular
2. Divide and Conquer - But Effectively
If you have more than one founder, things can get tricky. Anything from tag teaming the presentation to fielding questions at the end has the potential to derail the communication and turn off otherwise interested investors. For the Q&A: We recommend anticipating questions and categorizing them. Once you know some major categories you can divvy responsibility between the presenters to make ownership and response immediate. An example of that is Liz handles all technology questions, while her co-founder Alex handles all of the operations questions. Bottom line: Be clear about who is doing what so you can answer and deliver confidently.
3. The Value of a Solo Presenter
And speaking of multiple people pitching. We're not big fans of it. On the investor side it's a bit like watching a tennis match if the founders keep switching back and forth. It's usually stilted, choppy and really distracts from the overall message. Especially when there is a gap in presentation ability or style of the two presenters.
We've only seen this work well when one person takes the 1st half and introduces the next person on the team slide, and they finish the team slide and close out the pitch. This makes sense,right? Usually we recommend only one presenter. But if you really want to pull it off, you both need to be good presenters and well-rehearsed. The first pitcher's job is to really get the interest generated and the second's job is to hammer it home and close the deal.
4. Getting Clear on Your Value
Did you talk about the key differentiators? To us it's all about being able to demonstrate traction. Some key questions to consider are: How do you know your audience? Do you have a process or the ability to connect with your customers? How do you feel their pain? How are you best positioned to alleviate that pain? What traction have you found so far from the customer side? From the investment side? More about telling your story.
5. Structure the Presentation for the Audience not the Ask
Who is your audience and why do they care about this? It's really not about what you want - money. It is about what they want - money. And you have to show them why this is going to get them that. They aren't buying the hard facts as much as they are in the potential and the plan to make it happen.
6. Speak your Audience's Language
As you develop your pitch deck and you start preparing for your next pitch, make sure the most relevant information is communicated in a way that excites the exact audience you are pitching to. Do they know the industry? Then maybe you can use some industry-jargon. A good rule of thumb is to all ways say the layman's or long-form of any acronym once, and then again if 3-4 minutes have gone by since the last time you said it. Don't lose your audience to MOOC, RFP, CAC, NRT, FFQ, etc.
7. Don't Forget! To Close
And finally, after all that, make it easy for them to buy. This should be specific and should have been the next question they were dying to ask at the end of everything else you've told them. The more you know your value the stronger you can be about your terms but in general, you will need to decide on your equity's value in relation to the amount of investment being sought. At the end of your pitch, never say "And that's it, any questions?" At the very least repeat your one-liner "we are XYZ and we do XYZ." Better yet, remind your audience of the key points of your pitch & proposition.
If you take nothing else away from this article, take away "Practice, Practice, Practice". Every single, let me repeat EVERY SINGLE entrepreneur that I have ever worked with has not practiced enough for their pitch. And I would venture to say no entrepreneur has EVER practiced enough for a pitch. You think you've got it? Practice more, practice in a different way, test out your pitch on member of your audience and refine how you deliver it.