You’ve got a brilliant idea, and now it’s time to convince others. But how? From prepping your start-up elevator pitch to signing a new client, it’s crucial to pitch with confidence so you can win the business you deserve. I had business coach and communication strategist Amy Tez reveal her top tips to pitch your business like a boss and own any room – no matter what. Say hello to your more marketable self.
“Your ability to inspire is the single most important factor in determining the success of your pitch. Either you truly excite your investors or plunge them into eternal tedium as you drone on like everyone else,” Amy said.
Statistics show that most venture-backed startups will fail, so the odds are stacked against you. However, you can beat the odds by crafting an attention-grabbing pitch that puts you ahead of the pack and wins the funding you need.
– Amy Tez, business communications strategist
Here are 6 essential tips that will give your pitch that crucial edge:
1. Craft a compelling story
Business isn’t only about facts, it’s also about feeling. If you focus on delivering hard data at the expense of an exciting story, your audience will switch off. As much as we like to believe humans are rational, decisions are mostly based on emotion rather than reason. This means you must tell an epic story that triggers positive emotion in your investors. And you do so by detailing how much money your product will make them within the next five years – and it better be enough to make them rich, or they’ll move onto someone more ambitious.
You can craft a compelling story by knowing the answers to these questions:
- Who is the hero of your story?
- What is the hero’s problem or need?
- Why is it so important that you solve their problem?
- How exactly will you solve the hero’s problem?
- How will you do this better than anyone else?
- What is the exciting future in store for the hero once their problem is solved?
- What opposing forces could put your hero’s journey into serious doubt?
- How will you overcome these obstacles?
Once you answer these questions clearly, and sprinkle in a few sexy metrics, you have the beginnings of a solid story – one that will create all the drama and excitement necessary to turn investors’ heads your way.
2. Tell the story like you mean it
Now that you have your killer script, you must tell it with conviction. Otherwise your words, no matter how well crafted, will fall flat. And sadly, most pitches tank due to a lifeless delivery. As I said before, humans are not rational. They care more about how you say what you say, rather than the actual content.
In fact, over 90% of persuasion success has nothing to do with your words at all and everything to do with your body language and ability to elicit positive emotion in others. This is where actor training is extremely useful. The best actors bring their scripts to life. They inject passion into what they say, so that you believe their every word and want to follow them on their journey. As an entrepreneur, you don’t necessarily need to learn your script by heart. However, it is crucial that you tell your story with every fibre of your being, so that people buy into you.
And the only way to do this is to show how much you believe in what you are saying. There is absolutely no substitute for self-belief. People instinctively know when you’re faking it and when you’re being real. Always aim for the latter.
Having the guts to show how much you care about what you’re doing is an extremely admirable trait. It makes a statement about who you are – someone who will make their dreams happen with or without investors’ help. When you have conviction, investors will more likely want to be a part of your success story.
3. Keep it simple
Next, make sure your language is always kept simple. The art of being simple is difficult. Yet simplicity is the only way to ensure your messages not only land, but also take hold in people’s imagination. As Tom Hardy’s character in the movie Inception says:
“You need the simplest version of the idea in order for it to grow naturally in your subject’s mind. It’s a very subtle art.”
If you’re in the habit of delivering overly complex data along with fussy slides, then stop. You’ll overwhelm people, because if you can’t explain what you do in a few simple terms and visuals, it will sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about. Your listeners will drift.
So, cut the linguistic fat and distil your pitch down to its bare essentials. Sometimes even a single word will convey more meaning than a hundred. Brevity is power. The less you say, the better.
4. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse
Practice your pitch over and over, till you know it inside out and can speak it with spontaneity. No actor would dream of setting foot on a stage without having rigorously rehearsed their material. But unlike an actor, you don’t need to get the words exactly right.
It’s much better for an entrepreneur to sound authentic and conversational than like a scripted robot. However, you should rehearse how you will handle the inevitable pressure as you speak your words. Through rehearsal, we practice facing the very fear public speaking creates. This includes rehearsing how you will navigate difficult audiences and tricky objections.
Think of every possible question that could trip you up, and rehearse answering in a calm and assertive manner. With practice, you’ll start to look like a serious contender on top of your game. Better still, if you dare to be playful even in the most contentious moments, you’ll come across as a supremely confident person.
Contrast that to a founder who clings to their script, reciting it word for word for fear of making a mistake. They appear weak, as though the slightest obstacle could knock them over. That hardly inspires faith in their ability to lead a company! So rehearse, relax and let yourself play. Because when you do, you’ll look and sound more solid.
5. Stand tall in the eye of the storm
On pitch day, trust that you have done everything you possibly can to prepare. Now all you need do is forget your prep and just go for it. A thrilling pitch is founded in your capacity to step boldly into the arena, stand tall in the eye of the storm, face your fears and stick to your guns. So play all in, speak with spirit and show your investors that you’re a force to be reckoned with. Because when the heavens rain down and business gets tough, your investor needs to trust in your ability to pull through and make your ideas happen, no matter what.
You’ll help yourself to this end when you care less what anyone thinks. Some people won’t rate you whatever you do – just ignore them.
6. Be unique!
And most importantly of all, embrace your individuality. In business where most people compete and try to copy others, your uniqueness could be the secret weapon that turns the game in your favour.
So trust your own instincts. Don’t follow some prescribed recipe to delivering the perfect pitch, as that will merely turn you into a dull pitching robot. In fact, don’t even listen to me; the best ammo you could possibly have is to be fully and audaciously you.
This means trust yourself and your unique, spontaneous responses in any high-pressured scenario. With self-trust, you’ll be able to seize the stage, leap into the unpredictability of the moment and face the dangers necessary to win. Only then will you move from droning on like everyone else with the same mediocre spiel, to actually inspiring your audience and pitching like the boss you really are!
As Walter White from Breaking Bad memorably puts it:
“I am not in danger; I AM the danger!”