As an entrepreneur seeking funding for your startup, an effective pitch presentation is vital to your success. Given the high stakes, it’s hard to make a pitch to potential investors. Here are six strategies that enable you to give a successful pitch presentation, whether you deliver it in person or behind a screen.
1) Think from the investors’ point of view
Your presentation is not the time to tell the investors everything you know about your idea, product or service. Instead, follow my Golden Rule of Communications – “communicate unto others as they want to be communicated to.” Focus on what the investors want to hear and remember that their point of view centers on value and the return on their investment.
Keeping in mind your time limit, prepare your message, the key points to support that message, your opening and your closing. Practice by delivering your presentation out loud, focusing on these points and their relationship to each other. You should be familiar enough with the content so you can say it in several different ways and still have the same meaning and impact. Resist the temptation to memorize every word of your pitch. A memorized presentation makes you more nervous. It also sounds canned and prevents you from having an engaging conversation with the investors.
3) Anticipate questions
You can overcome the dreaded Q&A. In fact, you can prepare for more than 90 percent of the questions you will be asked. For example, potential investors want to know about things like your profit margin, sales, production costs, cash flow and intellectual property. Anticipate questions like these and have the answers ready to go.
For the other 10 percent of the questions that you can’t anticipate, rely on your background, knowledge and preparation to answer in the moment. And if you don’t have an answer be honest. Just admit that you don’t know and commit to getting back to them with the answer.
4) Remain calm
When the investors start peppering you with questions, it’s very uncomfortable. View every question as an opportunity. Keep in mind that questions show that the audience is interested, which is especially true in this case. They’re deciding whether to invest money in your proposal. So don’t take the questions personally or get hostile when responding.
5) Be assertive and respectful
As an entrepreneur asking for investment, you need to demonstrate three things. You’re passionate about your product or service, knowledgeable about your market and committed to working hard. You have to be assertive when explaining the value of your idea or company and why it’s a good investment.
At the same time, balance assertiveness with respect for your audience. Be respectful. Avoid personal attacks, sarcasm or disparaging remarks during your presentation, even when you get tough questions or someone chooses not to invest. There’s no benefit to burning bridges or alienating someone who could be a supporter in the future.
6) Enjoy the experience
Though it may feel like you are going into the dragon’s den or the shark’s tank, it’s important to relax and enjoy the experience. One way to demonstrate that is to smile, which conveys your confidence and relaxes both you and the audience. A genuine smile will show your excitement and passion for your product or service.
The next time you are talking about your product or service in front of potential investors, leverage these six strategies to ensure that the investors understand your product or service, appreciate your passion and knowledge and are more likely to invest.
About the author
Gilda Bonanno is a professional speaker, consultant and facilitator who serves as a trusted advisor to executives and entrepreneurs to transform their communication, presentation and leadership skills. Since 2006, she has run her own business and worked with leading organizations on four continents, from Chicago to Shanghai and Rio to Rome, including Travelers, Society for Marketing Professional Services, Wells Fargo, Assa Abloy and Yale University.
Gilda is committed to advancing economic equity for women. She is an adviser to the Women’s Business Development Council, which works with women entrepreneurs throughout Connecticut. She serves as Emcee for the Annual Women-Owned Business Day at the State Capitol and the Annual Gala Luncheon.