5 top tips for an effective pitch

Creating an effective business pitch can be daunting even for the most experienced entrepreneur, let alone someone new to business. Quivering hopefuls laying out their hopes and dreams before Dragons spring immediately to mind. But is this the reality of pitching? And how can you make the experience a positive one? Here are five key questions to ask yourself when preparing for an effective pitch.

What’s your goal? 

Firstly it’s important to remember that a business pitch is simply a presentation to a potential investor or group of investors. This could also be in the form of an email, letter, or even an impromptu face to face conversation – it’s not all about formal panel interviews! Whatever the medium, the aim is ultimately to secure help and resources for your fledgling or growing business. This might be financial investment or it could easily be to secure office or R&D space to facilitate expansion, or even mentor support; perhaps all three! So before putting anything together, be clear about your goal, be realistic in terms of expectations and stick to it throughout.

How knowledgeable are you?

Before pitching for any help for your business, it is absolutely essential that you do intensive research. Know your product and supply chain details, your target audience and the competitors in your marketplace in detail. Acknowledge the positives and any potential negatives and be prepared to talk about them. Be equipped with details to answer questions when needed, making sure that all your information is correct and up to date.  Quantify as much as possible and have evidence to validate any claims you make. During questions, if you don’t know an answer, it is most important to be honest but state that you can find out the answer within a specified timeframe – be proactive!

What do they want to hear?

You must tell your audience about your business. This may seem obvious advice, but many pitchers focus so heavily on the technical prowess of the product that they forget about the business plan and what the audience actually wants to hear.  You need to get across why the potential investor in your business should work with you. Be clear about how they will benefit from working alongside you over others and give them confidence in you.  One way to achieve this is by clearly outlining your ‘go to market’ strategy – this will demonstrate that you are strategic, methodical and, most importantly, commercially-minded.  It will also help the investor to evaluate what they will need to bring to the partnership to make the venture mutually successful.

Use laymen’s terms, be human and don’t patronise so that your content can be understood by all – this in itself will help to convince your audience that you could easily sell the product to potential customers.  Avoid buzzwords and hi-tech phrases that could be a barrier to understanding. However, don’t gloss over important details – include as much detail as you can so long as it’s relevant and easily understood.

How will you start? 

The best business pitches get to the heart of the matter as quickly as possible. This will prevent the audience from losing interest and they will appreciate that you are acknowledging that their time is precious.  One way to do this is by using the elevator pitch idea: say your dream investor got into a lift with you for no more than three floors – how could you get your message across succinctly during the ride? In a longer presentation scenario, the same concept can be used as a ‘hook’ to introduce your pitch.  Be concise and capture attention.

After your elevator pitch, you now need to flesh out the details. During your pitch it is most likely that you will need to include: industry analysis; value proposition; customer needs; marketing strategy; business model; overview of the competition; risks; implementation plan; financial projections; and financial needs.

What will your pitch style be?

How will you deliver a compelling and memorable pitch? Some pitchers can make the mistake of getting so wrapped up in the content and researching the pitch that they forget to prepare how they should present it. Choose a style and presentation aids that work for you – don’t risk trying out new ideas or technology that you’ve not worked with before – stick to what you know and how you feel comfortable.

And one last tip? Above all, throughout your presentation, demonstrate that you have energy, passion, knowledge, integrity and a hunger to succeed! Ultimately, the most important factor that an investor will look for is the people behind the business. If you demonstrate that you have the drive to succeed, the investor will feel reassured that they will get a return on their investment and will be more likely to commit their time and money.