An update on the art of pitching…

An excellent overview on the art of pitching to potential investors can be found on Guy Kawasaki’s blog written by Bill Reichert of Garage Technology Venture.

“Endless articles, books, and blogs have been written on the topic of business plan presentations and pitching to investors. In spite of this wealth of advice, almost every entrepreneur gets it wrong. Why? Because most guides to pitching your company miss the central point: The purpose of your pitch is to sell, not to teach. Your job is to excite, not to educate. “

Take a read; it contains a lot of sense.

Here are some of the points that I believe to be important:

  • What is the industry pain you are solving? This is often not articulated early enough or never at all leaving question marks in the recipients head as to what problem you are solving. The natural follow on to this is to show how your company provides an answer! The bigger the pain and the more unaddressed it is the better of course!
  • Are you just another clone? The world is already full of successful and wanabe companies in many sectors – VoIP, web conferencing and social networks to name but three. Why are you different and why will you succeed? IMHO, if you are, you have a significant challenge ahead. Uniqueness can be a problem as well, but rather that than being #75 in a particular segment.
  • Be clear right up front WHAT YOU DO. You’d be surprised in how many presentations the audience is still confused about thi9s half an hour into the flow.
  • Pick up on what the listener wants to hear. Are they looking for that YouTube world beater and nothing else is of interest to them? Are they cynical about your channel to market or the difficulty you might have selling to carriers?
  • Demonstrate that you know about the competitive landscape. Talk about competitors knowledgably and about the challenges you face in getting your product sold. Show your experience and that you are not naïve.
  • Make sure the presenter shows PASSION and ENTHUSIASM. Start-ups are principally about people and if the presentation is dull, boring and goes on and on it will not go down well.
  • Don’t spend 1/2 hour on the first slide. So easy to do, especially if questions are asked. Make sure you keep to your time slot and avoid using it all up on the first few slides. This happens time and time again. Of course if they want to spend hours and hours with that’s great!
  • Don’t use unexplained acronyms. In fact don’t use them at all if you can avoid it. You are not presenting to industry experts and they will probably not know what they mean. This is so often the case in telecoms presentations. If you do use them, always provide an explanation. I’ve seen slides stuffed with not-obvious acronyms.
  • Look for audience body language Look at your audience to gauge feedback and provide guidance for what to say. I was at a presentation last year where one of the audience left the room and the presenter didn’t even notice!
  • Never say “I’ll answer that question in a minute”. Answer it there and then but succinctly as nine times out of ten you never get round to it.
  • Get the balance right between technology and business. If you spend too much on early slides, business and finance stuff often gets forgotten.
  • Practice. It really does help.
  • Don’t rely on them having a live Internet connection for a demo. Getting this set up will be a distraction at a crucial time. Have it as a demo on a PC as getting the projector to work will be difficult enough!
  • Have a backup. For both notebook and the principle presenter.

And I thought it was all so easy. Come to think of it, maybe the above are all mistakes I’ve made over the years!

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