Calling All Innovators: Top 10 tips for building and delivering a great pitch

by Geoff Nesnow

Whether you’re pitching an idea to the board inside a corporation, to a VC or to your manager, these tips should help increase your odds.

  1. When you are pitching investors, your business/business case is your product. Like all products, they require selling. You need to sell yourself, your team and your ideas. Selling ideas requires relating to your audience. The best salespeople take their prospects on their prospect’s own deeply personal emotional journey. This starts by helping them understand and empathize with your target customers.

  2. Ideas are products. They exist in a competitive marketplace. Compared to alternatives, all products come with trade-offs. They’re never perfect. Idealism is great, but realism makes better investments. Be up-front about the trade-offs. Credibility shows maturity.

  3. When you are presenting, remember that everyone in the room is also a human being. They all have motivations, emotions and insecurities. They aren’t robots. They make emotional decisions like everyone else. In business, nobody cares about your journey. They don’t care about how much work you did. They care about the results and more specifically how the results affect their interests.

  4. In most companies, everyone has an agenda, often buried under the surface. This is true of professional investors, like Angel groups and VCs. As much as possible, it’s worth researching and meeting each of the key stakeholders to figure out their agenda.

  5. Throughout your pitch, share that you’ve stayed close to customers and that you’re open to learning.  The more you demonstrate that you really understand your customers, the more an investor will believe in you and your ideas.

  6. The hardest and most important part of making a pitch is defining what question(s) to answer. It’s easy to get off-track. It’s easy to answer the wrong question(s) or define the scope incorrectly. The best pitch builders are defined by their tenacity around answering the right questions.

  7. Investors value entrepreneurs’ ability to learn and adapt. To learn, you have to expose yourself to the possibility of being wrong. You need to take advice well. But, you still need to stay focused on your vision. Be transparent about what you’ve learned and how you’ve adapted. Investors would rather not pay for you to make mistakes and learn. They want to invest in your business after someone else has already paid for the mistakes and learning.

  8. Time invested in reducing complexity, reducing the number of slides, synthesizing information, making the story more compelling is one of the best time investments you can make. It far surpasses time spent on more data, more slides, answering more theoretical questions.

  9. Remember that part (sometimes the most important part) of defining what you’re proposing is defining explicitly what you’re NOT proposing. For example, being able to tell an investor what markets you aren’t targeting is highly valuable.

  10. The best pitches guide their audience towards great questions. Investors are always looking for reasons to say no. Teeing up the questions you want gives them less reason to say no and more opportunity for you to shine.

image credit: bleacherreport.com

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    Geoff Nesnow‘s career began in IT where he learned about the power of technology to solve tough business problems. Leveraging that experience, Geoff’s career evolved to building and growing many different technology solutions. Today, Geoff is an experienced entrepreneur, and passionate coach, inventor and transformation catalyst, who likes building businesses across a wide spectrum of industries.

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