It can be nerve-wracking going in front of potential investors and asking them to give you money. Many businesspeople wait their whole professional lives for the opportunity--spending years developing their product, studying the market, and polishing their business plan. A bad pitch could spell the end of a long-held dream.
This week, International Deal Gateway is hosting Global Deal Week, designed to help entrepreneurs and business people build relationships and skills. Among the more challenging aspects of business many entrepreneurs must master is the ability to prepare and deliver good presentations. It's no wonder that one of the most highly anticipated events of Global Deal Week is an exploration of the common mistakes people make when pitching their business to potential investors. It may be the only opportunity you get to convince investors why your idea is worth funding, so you can't afford any missteps.
Great presentations are both art and science. Here are steps you can take to improve your pitch:
1. Tell a story.
For millennia, humans have used storytelling to pass information between generations, to teach lessons, and to explain. That's because it works! Storytelling is one of the most effective ways of communicating. It makes the content relatable and helps it stick in people's minds. In your investor pitch, tell a story. Perhaps it's the story of a consumer who desperately needs your product, or the story of an event that fundamentally changed the market forever. Telling a story creates an emotional connection between you and the audience, and it helps them remember your product long after you leave.
2. Thorough but short.
In any investor pitch, there's a lot of information to cover. Your presentation needs to be thorough, cover all the basics, answer any obvious questions, and make a case for why the investor should choose you. No one wants to give money someone who seems ill prepared. The challenge is keeping it short enough to maintain their attention and leave them wanting more. The adage is true: your pitch needs to be as long as necessary, and as short as possible.
3. Tighten up your deck.
There's little more unappealing in business than an overdone presentation deck. Too many words, distracting animations, useless images, changing slides every two seconds--it's an eyesore, detracts from your message, and makes you seem unfocused. Besides, you're trying to convince them of your business acumen, not your PowerPoint skill. Your audience should be able to glance at a slide and immediately get the gist of it. This doesn't mean the slides should feel empty--you can relay a great deal of information with the right combination of words and images. Every element of your slide should have a purpose; don't waste words or time.
4. Know your numbers.
Investors are there to consider whether they'll give you some of their money. Giving funding is a demonstration of trust and confidence in you as a businessperson, leader, and human. It's hard to win, and easy to lose. You'll never earn their faith if you're not prepared. You need to know the business model, market, and projections inside and out. If you can't keep it all straight for this presentation, how will you manage when you're actually running the business?
5. Make them need it.
When you're done with your presentation, the goal is to have made the investors feel like they absolutely need to fund you and your idea. You need to make a case so compelling that they cannot say no. You can create this feeling with a presentation that is clean and crisp, delivered by speakers that are enthusiastic without being over the top. You need to practice this pitch in front of multiple test audiences you can trust. Tell them to be brutal--because the VCs certainly will be.