You might be called up on stage to pitch… You might be at a networking event… You might even strike up a convo waiting line for a coffee and realize – hey – I need to pitch!
Bottom line – you never know if the next person you meet could change your startup! You want to be armed with the perfect story of your venture at any given moment. Donna Griffit, an International Corporate Storyteller and Founder of invisu.me shares insider tips for getting your story straight and sounding great telling it. Why Pitch?
Learning to tell a story that does your vision justice may provoke anxiety but remember that self-reflection means you’re passionate. Learning to share your ideas in a way that’s engaging and honest to who you are and what you want to achieve will propel you to success.
Like Speed Dating
Like SpeedDating – 5 minutes to WOW. Dating and business share a crucial fulcrum: genuine relationships. Treat meetings with investors like a speed date. Do they need to know your entire history the first time they meet you… maybe not. Think about their questions and their needs. Let them know you care and work from there.
Intrigue – Don’t Tell the WHOLE Story. Leave a little to the imagination. Compelling narratives need a driving force, namely: intrigue. Leave your audience informed but compelled to want to know more.
Introducing Yourself and Your Vision Statement
Learn to integrate specifics, such as your company’s official initiative and your title without sounding like a robo-call. Start by describing a recent project or accomplishment and tie it back to your overarching goal. Flitting between abstract and concrete will give your audience a sense of what they might be a part of.
Make Them Feel the Pain
Confidence may be key but humility reflects lack of hubris. Let your future partners know you’re invested by sharing how you have tried, made mistakes, learned from them and drove forward. You’re hopeful but not naïve.
Or See the Light!
Yet, you persist! By tying what you’ve learned from past experimentation to what you hope to achieve with the help of a potential investor, you project knowledgeable hope. Remain passionate.
And Turn It Into a Story
Weaving narratives remains one of the defining qualities of humanity. What we decide to tie together in order to ‘spin a yarn’ insulates our perception of reality. Think about plot, conflict, and resolution to keep your audience engage.
Heroes and Villains:
- Bad economy
- Targeting wrong demographics
- Time to market
- Security vulnerabilities
- Lack of accessibility
- Declining loyalty
- Rising commodity prices
- Finding the right information/knowledge
- Waste in the system
- Popular rising cultural trend
- Missing a great opportunity
Thinking in terms of opposites remains an evolutionary instinct you can use to your advantage. Politicians know it well. Focusing anxiety and fear on circumstances of a shared anxiety creates a sense of kinship. However, stay vigilant in case of suspicious finger pointing or diversion.
Remember that your audience needs to get to grips with the basic concept of your idea before you imbue them with details. Try to find a way to explain your mission in a way that someone with no prior knowledge might understand and work from there. You’ll avoid overwhelming a potential partner.
Keeping your presentation simple doesn’t preclude adding some style. An effective storyline engages your senses in different ways. Think about how you’d like to see visuals incorporated into a pitch without discombobulating the message. Focus on clean and effective images rather than kitsch and clutter.
How Far Along?
Don’t forget to provide a point of reference when describing your plans. Make sure to go back, locate where you are at the moment and tie it back to your long-term plan.
Put your money where your dreams are. Bring up prior instances of how you incorporated your development with small profits to allow future investors to see that you’re head is not just in the clouds but that you also have your feet firmly on the financial ground.
Take Advantage of Opportunities
Research your market and those adjacent to yours and look for a way to not just diversify but tactically integrate possible opportunities. Have a vision proves powerful but stay away from pigeonholing yourself. Flexibility within reason appears more attractive than a stubborn idea generator.
An idea without competent people pushing it forward might as well be a whisper on the wind. Making sure that you are in contact with the people that are as determined and involved as you are projects confidence and remains one of the best guarantors of success.
End With Inspiration
End your presentation or conversation with a modicum of inspiration. You’ve outlined where you’ve started and what you’re doing to move forward. Make sure your audience can visualize exactly where you’re going and give them hope.
Elevator Pitch – Problem + Solution and TEENY bit About Biz.
Don’t underestimate the power of a succinct two-minute primer or pitch. Think of it as the perfect flashcard to pull out when you need to streamline your ideas in a pinch. When someone asks you to explain your idea out of the blue, you’ll be armed and ready.
Slides Reflect Your Product!
(Make them both look great!)
Style matters. In the speech, in delivery, and in your slides! Nix distracting headers and overcrowded graphics in favor of a design that doesn’t stress out the viewer. How many times have you seen a slide that could cause you to go into a fit of epilepsy? Don’t repeat that experience.
Don’t Data Dump!
Don’t Data Dump! One Big Idea Per Slide!
Filter your facts and edit. Slides are meant to be reminders or thematic headlines to pre-empt your excellently prepared and nuanced ideas. Rule of thumb: your audience shouldn’t be scrambling to read everything on the screen while you’re speaking.
Can Your Grandmother Understand It?
Know your audience well enough to understand the depth of detail to delve into. While a certain sector of investors might appreciate your business vernacular, another might find some jargon off-putting. Make sure that when you employ specific terms that the purpose is to clarify not befuddle.
Know Your Audience’s Questions – Answer Ahead!
Prepare for questions after you present. How many times have you sat through an excellently prepared presentation, only to find that the speaker wasn’t prepared to truly interact with you? Imagining what questions people might ask you communicates that you care and are open to input.
Energy, energy, energy! Keep Energy Up – Be Memorable! Remember: this is your chance to speak about what you’re truly passionate about. No one is going to interrupt you. See this as an opportunity to let everyone know how excited you are. Projecting that energy with clarity and confidence prompt a reciprocal reaction.
Presentations are Conversations
Presentation = Conversation! Interact with your audience rather than reciting points in a monotone. Groups of people appear intimidating but remember that you are still speaking to each individual. Presentations are simply more expedient forms of one-on-one conversations.
Don’t Park and Bark
Learn to speak without a microphone. Actors and singers understand the power of projection and you should too! Speak from the chest rather than from your nasal cavities. Not only will you sound more confident and prepared but you’ll avoid that ‘through the nose’ peevish tone we’ve all come to cringe at.
Breathe Through Conversational Fillers
Umming and Ehhing…
Voice – Volume, Clarity, Pace, Musicality – Breathe! Presentations are nerve-racking. Anxiety produces verbal ticks. Try replacing ‘ummms,’ ‘aaahhs,’ and ‘wells,’ with a breath in or counting to three in your head.
Presentations are nerve-racking. Anxiety produces verbal ticks. Try replacing ‘ummms,’ ‘aaahhs,’ and ‘wells,’ with a breath in or counting to three in your head.
Speak With Your Hands, Not Your Feet
Gestures – Talk with the Hands – Not the Feet.
Watch your posture. Standing with your feet at a 45-degree angle takes you people stable and keeps you from nervously shifting from one foot to another. If you want to move, take a couple of steps and make direct hand gestures to make your point.
Practice REALLY Does Make Perfect.
The more you practice, the less you worry about your form and flow. Practice invokes muscle memory, which in turn engages your verbal cues. By the time you present, you can even begin to improvise in the case of unexpected questions or events. Think of it as a present for future self.
F.E.A.R – Face Everything And Recover.
There is no universal way of dealing with anxiety. Different people experience the ‘fight or flight’ response in a myriad of ways. What you can do is think back to the hours of practice and preparation you’ve gone through to boost you through to the adrenaline rush that will keep you going.
Walk in the Room at Your Best.
Be the person you’d want to speak to. When you’re presenting, people aren’t judging your character they’re assessing your ideas. You are not you, but a vehicle for your vision. Remember that and act accordingly.
Invisu: One Pagers that get you the Meeting!
Invisu – a tool that helps startups create their pitch to investors and get the meetings they want!
Donna Griffit, Corporate Storyteller, has worked globally for over a decade with Fortune 500 companies, Start-Ups and investors in a wide variety of industries. She has consulted and trained clients in over 30 countries, helping them create, edit and deliver verbal and written presentations, pitches and messages. Donna has the ability to magically spin raw data into compelling stories that captivate audiences and drive to results. Through her guidance clients have raised hundreds of millions of dollars. Donna is Co-Founder and CEO of Invisu.
- Ted: Amy Cuddy – Your Body Language Shapes who you are – http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_languag e_shapes_who_you_are.html
- Ted: Nancy Duarte – The Secret Structure of Great Talks – http://www.ted.com/talks/nancy_duarte_the_secret_struct ure_of_great_talks.html
- VentureBeat – Donna Abraham – Why Your Startup Should Ditch the Pitch: http://venturebeat.com/2013/02/19/ditchthe-pitch/