Here are a few, in no particular order:
- Answer the question asked, not what you think was asked.
- Do not ramble.
- Use the "B" button (if using PowerPoint) to blank out the screen when you are talking. It helps people focus on your words instead of being distracted by the slide.
- Use pictures, not words.
- Don't feel obliged to walk through every slide. Read your audience's reaction and skip/shuffle slides around as necessary. This requires you to know your content cold.
- Try not to use filler words like "umm" and "aah". Take a second after the question is asked to collect your thoughts before speaking.
- Keep your cool. "That's an interesting question" is a good way to respond while your brain scrambles for an answer.
- Do not get into an argument with a member of your audience in public no matter how strongly you disagree. Save it for a private conversation later, if you must.
- Never bad mouth competition.
- Be realistic. You are unlikely to own 0.1% of the $100B market one week after you launch.
- Always have an "about" slide to introduce your team. People invest in people, not unproven ideas.
- Know your numbers cold.
- Know your weakness.
- Be able to answer why you, why now, and why you need the money now.
I'm a pitch receiver, not a pitch giver, and I can easily give these easy-to-do hints that are great for any pitch to investors:
Develop the stories that make your business work.
First, start your pitch with a beautiful photograph that illustrates the problem your business solves. For example, I loved a pitch for recycling unused restaurant food that started with a beautiful high-resolution photograph of the food in the dumpster behind a local restaurant. And another one, trying to solve the problem of African crafts coming to market, that started with a great picture of a woman sitting making a bracelet. And one that was pitching a cleaner technology for firing kilns in developing nations showing a smog-choked city in Asia.
Leave the market numbers for later, to support the story, and flesh it out. Lead with the story.
Second, follow that start up with a beautiful photograph that illustrates your solution to that problem. Make it dramatic. In the first example above, they showed a branded delivery vehicle outside a homeless shelter. In the second, a picture of a rudimentary mobile phone with programming on it superimposed over one of the major crafts online sites. In the third, a picture of one of their kilns installed.
I hear pitches as a member of an angel investor group. We want the facts and numbers of course, but we're going to evaluate your pitch on whether or not we believe, not what your numbers say. We trust our imaginations and experience. Give us stories we can believe.
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