Steve Jobs is considered one of the best presenters around. I don’t care if you’re gifted… so was Jobs, but he spent 2 days – TWO DAYS rehearsing his presentations!
It may also help to know, the actor Dustin Hoffman takes about 1-hour to memorize 6-minutes of material. You’re going to need longer time.
If you want to be good at pitching… practice, practice, practice.
But before you do practice, here are a couple of pointers to get you in the right direction and help you walk away with a sale, deal closed or a few million dollars in your bank account.
Tell A Story
Start with a story… tell some sort of story, because humans can remember stories better than facts – that’s why the sacred texts are full of stories.
When you make your pitch, each and every word counts – for every point you have on that slide, answer the question – “so what?” And whatever answer you get to that, repeat it again.
Don’t Add. Subtract.
Over time, people have a tendency to start adding to their pitch after they’ve presented it to a number of investors. This causes you to add more, and reduce the font size. DON’T.
Instead go through your pitch and add only what was repeated over and over as a question, and remove something that wasn’t used.
Memorize Or FREESTYLE
Unless you’re a rockstar… don’t freestyle. But don’t be so robotic to memorize a script either. Instead, memorize your opening as well as your closing. Your intro needs to be strong, crisp and clear.
You have less than 20 seconds to get your audience attention, and after that you have 20 minutes to keep it. Think of a jet taking off an aircraft carrier – it has a short runway and they have to be airborne, otherwise… you can swim around for fish in the sea.
For the middle part, you don’t need to freestyle either, you can keep a set of index cards to remind you as you progress.
Record Yourself (Preferably On Video)
You’d be amazed when you see yourself on video… all the weird things you do and say, unconsciously – they just stand out so well. Keep it for posterity, you’ll have a laugh.
You’ll come across those ‘oh crap’ moments – where one of these are not working – projector, battery on your laptop, tablet or mobile, your adapter is wrong, the wifi signal is weak. You have no excuses if you can’t present – bring a backup for everything, including a print out of the damn presentation!
Know Your Audience
Unfortunately, many come to presentations without knowing their audience properly. They have no clue who they’re presenting to. Do your homework before hand, be the CIA.
Here’s a list of things 3 things you don’t shouldn’t do:
- Don’t say there’s no competition… if there is no competition, you’re probably in the wrong business.
- Don’t say your projections are… conservative. Really? (Instead, create scenarios… use probability)
- Don’t say you have other investors interested (when you don’t). Please don’t create a false sense of scarcity. We live in a small world, people talk to each other. This either shows you’re negotiating from a place of weakness, or you’re a pathological liar.
- Bonus: Don’t be needy, and if you are don’t show neediness.
I’ve been fortunate to see hundreds of pitches as a buy-side investor. And now I’ve turned the table. There’s a structure and formula to pitching that we’re teaching our clients at Activa Venture Advisors. What’s the formula? It’s not complicated, but probably too long for this post.