With DEMO, TechCrunch Disrupt and a whole slew of pitch events in the fall, summer is a perfect time to get your pitch into fighting shape. Here are 6 tips to get you started.
1. The first 30 seconds.
A pitch is a story with a beginning, middle and end. In the first 30 seconds, tell your audience the pain your product solves and why they should care. Telling a story to illustrate this point is generally a good idea but only if you keep it to 30 seconds or so.
2. Startups are a team sport.
Investors are intrigued by ideas but invest in people. Depending on the stage, startups could have two to five management team members. If you fall in lower end of the spectrum, consider including advisers in your pitch. Having a team is an indication that you’ve been successful getting buy-in for your vision and the right adviser on your management team slide is a strong endorsement.
3. What to include.
Be selective about what you include in the presentation. Consider what is important to the audience. To the prospective investor, these are the nine items to include. Depending on the nature of your startup, some items will carry more weight than others.
- Problem – how big is the problem? why should the audience care?
- Your solution – how are you solving the problem? what’s unique about the approach or solution?
- Market opportunity + Target Audience – how large is the revenue opportunity?
- Go-to-market strategy – how are you planning on reaching the intended purchasers? what will you charge?
- Competition – what solutions are in use now?
- Team – how will each member contribute to executing on the vision?
- Milestones – accomplishments and accolades to date.
- Summary and call to action – make the ask.
4. Constructing your presentation.
- Consider the median age of your audience, that is the font size for your presentation.
- Opt for high contrast between text and slide background. Yellow on white is particularly illegible.
- Consider using images to reinforce your talking points.
- If you plan on including video, be sure to provide the actual file along with the presentation.
- Be sure you are able to deliver your pitch without the presentation in event of equipment failure.
5. Delivery tips.
- Avoid looking back at the screen to read your slides.
- Use definitive verbs to convey confidence. For example, instead of “trying to do,” say “we are doing” and instead of “I think…” or “I believe…” say “This is …” To paraphrase the great Yoda “No think, only do..”
- Plant your feet firmly approximately shoulder-wide. Shifting or rocking motions while presenting detracts from your message.
- If you have a tendency to pace during your pitch, practice keeping the area to three – four steps in either direction.
Bonus Tip: Pick four points in the room corresponding to the four corner seats of the audience seating area and be sure you look in the general direction of one of the corners during each pause. For a six-minute presentation, work in 2-3 looks per corner.