HOW TO… perfect your pitch

Nov 9, 2020

By Lisa Makarova, Pitch Expert-inResidence, Imperial Enterprise Lab and Emma Sexton, Design Expert-inResidence, Imperial Enterprise Lab

This article is taken from the latest D/srupt issue 3 (2020-21). Click here to view the full magazine.

Think of the last pitch competition you attended. Do you remember what they pitched? I often catch myself having a hard time telling people about the business I’ve just seen pitch a couple of hours before that.

Usually, by the time I get home, most of them are forgotten. You could, of course, say I need to train my memory, but you could also think whether there is something the founders could have done better. Think about the ones you do remember. Why do you think that is? I remember them because they created a picture in my mind. And so should you.

Tell them a good story

It’s early days – you’re probably pre-revenue and maybe even pre-product. You might think you have the best thing in the world but ultimately the only thing you have is an idea. You have to convince people this is a great one and get them excited about it. With a limited track record, you’re trying to convince people – be that potential investors or mentors or any other stakeholders – that you are worth their time and money. You have to paint a picture of the bright future for your business and for them if they were to join you. Convince them it’s possible, connect the disconnected dots. Tell them a good story.

Tip: Think of your pitch as a story. Does it have a clear storyline? Does it flow? Or are you losing people halfway?

 

Make it very simple

The story doesn’t only have to flow well. It also has to be told in a language that people will understand. Investors are smart and don’t like it when someone makes them feel stupid. So you better make sure to use the words they understand. And understand them the same way you do.

Tip: Avoid jargon at all cost. And if you can’t find a way to do without, make sure you use it right. Saying it’s AI when it’s not might be a fatal mistake for your company.

 

Perception is everything

You have about three seconds to make an impression. How your pitch deck looks can play a huge role in the perception you want to leave in people’s minds. Your audience will be thinking: “Can I trust you?”. We trust well-designed things. Visual design is something you can get to work really hard for you in those early stages. Do you want to look like a credible business? Do you want to position yourself alongside the big players already in your market? Investing in a professional brand designer can help you to achieve all of these things.

Tip: When creating a design for your pitch deck ask yourself: “What do I want my audience to think and feel when they see my deck?”

 

Think like a designer

When visual design is used in its purest form it is there to communicate. A good visual designer is not making things look pretty but thinking about how they are communicating the content. One of the items in a designer’s toolbox is knowing how to use visual hierarchy. This is the arrangement and presentation of the elements on page in relation to their importance. It is also about influencing the order that you want the human eye to navigate through your content.

Tip: Once you are happy with the content on a slide, stop and think about the first, second and third thing you want people to see. Then adjust the size of text or the layout so that you have three very clear levels of communication.

 

Read the room

The best pitches aren’t just the ones with the best storytelling or slide design – they are the ones who also know who is in the room they are presenting to.

To be engaging and memorable you need to connect with the audience by making the story relevant and meaningful to them.

Tip: Before you present your pitch deck take a moment to create a ‘pen portrait’ of who you will be talking to. What do they need to know? What are they motivated by? Now review your deck – how can you change it to connect with this audience?

 

Want to practice your pitch? Sign up for the next Pitch ‘n’ Mix event!

This is article is written by Lisa Makarova, Pitch Expert-in- Residence, Imperial Enterprise Lab and Emma Sexton, Design Expert-in- Residence, Imperial Enterprise Lab.

 

 

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