Sell your vision like a pro. Learn the art of the perfect pitch
“When we are selling our ideas, the audience must first buy us.” ― Peter Coughter
Ask any entrepreneur what is harder — creating an idea or selling it — and the answer will invariably be the latter. Talking about your business in the most compelling manner is the first step to securing funding, which then determines your idea’s future. So it makes sense that the way you say what you say is the single most important element of your pitch. A well-crafted presentation will help you kickstart your business and so, it is critical that we understand what makes a winning pitch.
To begin with, it needs to be powerful enough to convince an investor to give his money to you and choose your idea over the hundreds of others he has heard. While there are many tools, formats, and techniques that help you create a method out of the madness, these are a few helpful tips to keep in mind while crafting your pitch.
- Perfect your elevator pitch: Any good story has a great opening, an engaging storyline, and an exciting finish. Think of your pitch the same way — craft a story that delights your audience to ensure high recall. Practice your story, get it perfect, and make sure you weave your magic in the first 90 seconds. With a quick and thrilling story, you’ll be able to connect with your investors emotionally. Because people remember stories more than facts, figures, and infographics, they are the best way to stay in an investor’s mind long after they have left the meeting.
- Define the problem: An often overlooked part of any business plan is defining the problem it plans to solve, and understanding why the effort is worth it. Investors need to perceive the scale of your problem to see value in your solution. You could go a step further by highlighting the emotional impact your problem has among your target group. Automatically, your product or plan provides the most viable solution.
- Establish your competence: Once your plan has been outlined, the next thing an investor is interested in is you. They need to believe that you are credible, trustworthy, and have the necessary skills to see your project through. Build trust by highlighting your technical skills, industry knowledge, and any other unique qualities you bring to the table.
- Keep it short: Whether you have 60 seconds or 20 minutes, your pitch should pack a punch, and be good enough to interest anyone. As Guy Kawasaki says, “A pitch should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.” The last thing you want, especially at an event that allocates time slots to each presenter, is to get to the end of your time and still have your audience wondering what the secret sauce of your business is. Pare it down to the essentials and highlight only the most important aspects.
- Handle objections carefully: While you are the master of your idea, vision, and business, not everyone sees things as you do. Be prepared for questions, going as far as anticipating and preparing for them, so that your answers are clear and concise. Play devil’s advocate by thinking through any objections that may arise and rehearse until your response to them appears impromptu. If all else fails, maintain good eye contact and be aware of your body language — both of which can help communicate that you are the expert.
- Understand your business: To come up with a foolproof business strategy, you need to go beyond your problem statement. You need to understand the ecosystem, including what alternate solutions currently exist, the barrier to entry in your target market, and what your competitors offer. Your business plan should also communicate a clear go-to-market strategy along with a sound financial model. Investors will also be interested in knowing how you plan to handle potential roadblocks. They might also want to meet the team you already have or plan to hire.
- Practice the unsaid: Last, but certainly not least, keep in mind that people form impressions of you from what is unsaid, rather than what is spoken out loud. It helps to ensure that your non-verbal communication is as powerful as your pitch deck. Tone of voice, confident delivery, and personal composure go a long way in conveying your passion. Although it sounds unusual, practice being spontaneous — delivering a passionate pitch that rolls off your tongue actually requires hours of careful preparation.
Finally, remember that business usually has more nays than ayes, and learning to handle rejection with equanimity is a skill that needs to be mastered — especially in the entrepreneurial journey. If you experience a setback, simply move on to your next pitch with even more fervor and confidence. Your funding is just one great pitch away!