Whether it's your first time delivering a business pitch or your hundredth, it's always daunting to stand up in front of potential stakeholders and explain why they should be doing business with you. In addition to nailing your pitch about your business's offerings, it's equally critical that you communicate who you truly are in order to get your audience in your corner. To pull this off, you'll need to think deeply about how you can speak to your core values without coming off like a well-rehearsed salesperson.
Nine entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) discuss what elements you should be incorporating into your sales pitch to win the crowd over with your authenticity.
1. Don't be afraid to use a little humor.
Self-deprecating humor is a great way to relax the tone and show the audience that you are personable. Do not downplay accomplishments, but phrase them humbly: "I was very fortunate to be able to [insert astounding achievement here]." One of the few universal truths is that people prefer to work with people they like than those they don't, so make yourself likable.--Douglas Hutchings, Picasolar
2. Let your street cred shine.
Margaret Thatcher said it up best, "Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't." The same is true for your company. If you have to tell people how unique and great it is, those listening may assume it's just the opposite. To avoid this, drop your client or partner list to show that it's not all in your head. Companies X, Y, and Z think you're great, too!--Kim Kaupe, ZinePak
3. Tell a compelling story.
Include details in your story about your background and why you have gotten to this point of pitching this specific idea. Maybe it involves encountering some personal life-altering situation, realizing that the problem also affected others, and creating a solution to help resolve that issue. Making it into a personal story adds flavor, context and credibility.--Andrew O'Connor, American Addiction Centers
4. Focus on the challenges.
The biggest pitfall I see my peers make when pitching their business is that they don't focus enough on "the bad." It's definitely not the most comfortable thing to do, especially when talking about your own business, but it lets others know that you're being real with them. Anyone who has had anything to do with a business, especially investors, will be very skeptical when all they hear is "the good."--Giuseppe Stuto, SmackHigh
5. Wait to be asked before you pitch.
There are few things more off-putting than someone pitching themselves without an invitation to do so. If someone asks a leading question, start with a short but impactful statement like, "We help X to Y." If they want to learn more, they'll ask follow-up questions, which allows you to have a dialogue and not put someone off by pitching them.--Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids
6. Mind your body language.
Body language plays a big role in how others perceive you. Remaining calm while maintaining proper eye contact subconsciously show you have nothing to hide and are speaking from the heart about yourself and passion.--Raul Pla, SimpleWifi and Antenna World
7. Believe in yourself.
For the entrepreneur pitching themselves, authenticity should be your finest trait. If you don't genuinely believe in yourself and in your pitch, then you're selling a fictional story to an audience, which will never pay off. Further, you must have faith that the market wants and needs you. Authenticity breeds courage. It's simple: be genuine.--Derek Hunter, Long Live Luxury
8. Use data and logic rather than emotional appeal.
Avoid startup lingo and mission statements that aren't inextricably linked to the market niche you intend to occupy. Win people over with your level of preparedness, your unique insights into the market and your competition, your results, and logical arguments. Implementing in real-life anecdotes and logically sound arguments can turn your pitch into a dialogue, rather than a monologue.--David Mainiero, InGenius Prep
9. Avoid the empty cliches.
Take George Orwell's advice: "Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech that you are used to seeing in print." That means avoiding the empty startup buzz phrases -- "disrupting", "pre-revenue" -- and saying precisely what you think or feel instead.--Richard Kershaw, WhoIsHostingThis.com