Startups and established businesses know that pitches are essential. It can mean new customers and/or funds, which you need to jump-start your company. It can mean impressing the right people who can definitely help you. But only if you do it right. It isn’t easy, though.
In any setting, pitches hinge on how you persuade your audience to buy what you offer. For the most part, this is the hardest to do, especially when attention spans run short. Not to mention the different ways your whole presentation can fail.
Don’t let that happen to you. Avoid those blunders with the following dos and don’ts.
Lots of it. Industry, history, services, and even your competitors. Don’t let unpreparedness stump you in front of your potential customers, especially when the questions come pouring in. Handle the difficult ones with ease.
Don’t just cover the basics; that’ll just be shallow research. Show that you know deeper than you initially let on. The more surprised they are that you have all kinds of insights, the more impressed they will be.
Keep it short and simple. The longer your pitch, the greater the risk of losing your audience’s attention. On the other hand, if you make it too brief, then you won’t be able to cover important points. The same goes when you try to make it too simple.
There’s a balance to strike. Keep it from being too long or too short; give them details, but make sure they don’t drown on information. Keep them wanting more. As Kexino CEO Gee Ranasinha put it, “Don’t tie up every loose end – leave openings for questions.”
The 10-20-30 Rule
Guy Kawasaki’s advice is to make ten slides for a presentation that should last twenty minutes; to make slides readable, use a font size no smaller than thirty. This makes sure that you get your message across while your audience is still interested in what you have to say.
Of course, having a great deck is no question. Tricking out your slides can be a taxing effort, so if you’re having problems, you can hire a presentation design agency.
Tell a story
Stories are powerful tools. There are two sides to this: provide tales of success if you already have them to further impress your audience, and make your whole pitch a story worth knowing and listening to.
Engaging your audience with stories leaves a lasting impact. Humans are hard-wired that way. Making them a part of that story will be unforgettable.
Be mindful of body language
Body language conveys more than you realize, and people who can read it will be puzzled when you say you’re open, but your body shows otherwise. A few tell-tale signs of negativity to avoid are crossing your arms while you speak, slouching, and clenched fists; when they extend their hand, give a firm handshake. You’ll be surprised with how much the body reveals, especially when you’re not feeling particularly happy about the task.
The biggest mistake you can ever make, being unprepared will show the moment you stand in front of your audience. Not only does it say you’re not ready, but it also takes away the confidence that they should be investing in you.
Preparation is half the battle. Being fully aware and prepared makes things easier. Review your slides. Practice your manner of speaking. Prepare until you are comfortable. The time taken will be worth it.
Skimp on answers
In relation to doing your research, when the question-and-answer part comes, holding back your answers will only double the time. If you didn’t make your answers clear, a follow-up question will follow. (Of course, not all follow-up questions are because of points made unclear.)
Your audience will also ask questions if they are curious enough. Don’t let them off with general details of your services. Capitalize on their curiosity by giving them a more-than-satisfying answer.
Make it sound like a pitch
After all this time, everything comes down to how you deliver your pitch. Make it a part of your sales talk, and your audience’s defenses will go up. There isn’t much you can do when the proverbial gates are shut. Instead, Corbett Barr, CEO of Fizzle, says the best pitch ever is not a pitch at all.
By informing your potential customer of your services, entertaining their questions, satisfying their curiosity, and leaving a great impression—while making the whole process a two-way conversation between you and your prospect—they don’t feel the pressure of being talked to by a salesperson but rather talking with another person who can help them with their problems. Romance the audience to make your whole pitch an easier experience for both you and them.
A pitch shouldn’t be hard; it must be well-planned and well-executed. It must be impressive and exciting. With so much at stake, don’t feel pressured.
Admittedly, though, even if you do the dos and don’t do the don’ts above, chances are you’ll still fail. If you do, it doesn’t mean you’re over for good. It just means you have to learn from the previous attempt and try again. You’ve got nothing to lose.
Arline, Katherine. “What Is an Elevator Pitch?” Business News Daily. January 26, 2015. www.businessnewsdaily.com/3937-elevator-pitch.html
Barr, Corbett. “THE BEST SALES PITCH EVER.” Fizzle. November 16. www.fizzle.co/sparkline/the-best-sales-pitch-ever
Bhalla, Jag. “It Is in Our Nature to Need Stories.” Scientific American. May 8, 2013. blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/it-is-in-our-nature-to-need-stories
Bradberry, Travis. “15 Body Language Secrets of Successful People.” Huffington Post. October 16, 2016. www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-travis-bradberry/15-body-language-secrets_b_12389944.html
Guy Kawasaki. “The Only 10 Slides You Need in Your Pitch.” GuyKawasaki.com. March 5, 2015. www.guykawasaki.com/the-only-10-slides-you-need-in-your-pitch
Hernandez, Brian Anthony. “How to Make Sure Your Elevator Pitch Isn’t a Downer.” Business New Daily. September 22, 2010. www.businessnewsdaily.com/236-tips-developing-elevator-pitches.html
Lininger, Nicole. “Invertors: 10 Do’s and Don’ts For Your Elevator Pitch.” YFS Magazine. August 13, 2015. www.yfsmagazine.com/2015/08/13/inventors-10-dos-and-donts-for-your-elevator-pitch
McSpadden, Kevin. “You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish.” Time. May 14, 2015. www.time.com/3858309/attention-spans-goldfish