When you're just starting out, you'll find yourself in many situations where you'll need to pitch your business - and not just when it's about getting funding. That's why it's important to always be prepared. This material will teach you how to be as persuasive as possible.
You had an idea that you worked hard on: you invested in market research, in a prototype, and planning, and now it has all turned into a business you're proud of. After so much effort, it's time to also invest this energy in the way you present it to those who can help you take your business to the next level.
Often, you have to prepare a pitchdeck as well. When working on it you have to consider, on the one hand, the structure and content of the presentation, and on the other, the way you present it. In terms of content, pitchdecks usually include the following chapters: Introduction, Opportunity, Problem, Solution, Potential, Market and Customers, Competition, Finance, Team, Prize. If you are curious to practice, at the end of this chapter you will be able to practice with a template accompanied by helpful information.
How to pitch your business to investors
Before you get in front of the investors, it is advisable to document yourself about them. That is, see what funds/associations exist out there, what types of businesses they have in their portfolio and what industries they have invested in over time. Then you can contact those who match your business profile.
Equally, when you go to a pitching event, the most important thing of all is to know your audience: find out about the jury members or the investors in the room. If you know about their area of interest or expertise, you can get personalized feedback. And there may be potential future clients or partners among them.
***video in EN
Be sure that your presentation has a clear structure and that you have rehearsed it beforehand. Not only by yourself, but also in front of an audience, even if it consists only of a few close people. Their feedback can help you improve many aspects of your presentation.
Furthermore, if you rehearse with the visual support, you will get used to not reading too much from the presentation and you will make sure that you can keep to the time alloted to you by the organizer. In terms of movement on stage, avoid moving excessively or standing still in one place. Also, don't forget about the microphone and be careful not to hold it too far or too close while speaking.
Presentation style - public speaking techniques
A pitch is essentially – you guessed it – a public speaking exercise. Here is some information to help you be more concise, persuasive and clear in your presentation.
How to pitch | Public speaking techniques
When you have a very important presentation or when you give a pitch, it is important to pay attention to your public speaking style: to present calmly, to speak loud enough, to keep to the allotted time. Learn from Alex Grecu how to deliver a successful pitch. Alex has more than 10 years of experience in communication, he is an event presenter and host of Startarium Pitch Day.
Verbal versus non-verbal language
You have a great presentation and you are one step closer to the desired funding - the next step is to realize the importance of language.
According to statistics, a successful speech depends:
7% on verbal language (what we say)
38% on paraverbal (vocal) language
55% on visual language.
How to use language in a pitch
Paraverbal language: first of all, we mean voice and rhythm. I suggest using a warm, calm, but firm tone of voice. Your voice must be loud enough, that is, speak up and make sure that everyone hears you well.
Hearing yourself speak is an advantage for you as well, as you confirm at a subconscious level that what you are saying is exactly what you mean to say. Try using voice inflections, this way you can convey emotion and give more meaning to your examples and statements.
If you speak with the same voice intensity throughout your speech, you risk people losing interest. And smile! You're pitching for a potential life-changing funding, so you have every reason to be excited and make your audience smile in your presence. Regarding the pace of your speech, please do not rush.
A pace that is too fast creates a sense of alertness and the audience will feel agitated. A pace that is too slow generates sadness, and I don't think you want that.
So present everything calmly, loud enough, and, with the risk of repeating myself, rehearse your speech to make sure you keep to the time alloted to you and you do not have to rush as you get closer to the end.
How do we move on stage?
What do we do with our hands?
How should we look at the audience?
Haven't you seen situations where you can't follow a speech because the speaker is constantly moving around and, at some point, this actually agitates you too? Well, do not do that. When you make your presentation, try to stay within an area of one square meter and change your position when your move to the next idea in your speech. That is, take a step forward or sideways. If you don't have any visual support, then you can move along the entire stage, but please do it gradually, slowly, without constantly walking from one side to the other of the stage.
Also, do should not gesticulate excessively. You risk agitating the audience and drawing too much attention to your movements, and you don't want that. Use gestures moderately, and each gesture should reinforce a piece of information in your speech.
When you are not making any gestures, the position of your hands should be a natural one, so let them hang loosely by your sides. Most of the times they feel weird and we do not know what to do with them, and we try to give them something to do so we put them on our hips, in our pockets, we use them to hug, or we put them behind our back or any position other than the natural one, that is, hanging by your sides. That way you will not distract the audience from your speech.
Also, look equally across the entire room. Whether you have an audience of two people or an audience of 500 people, it does not matter. You have to speak to all of them, regardless of their number.
That's why you have to do your best to try to make eye contact with as many people in the room as possible, and cover the whole room equally. And when you make eye contact with people, look directly into their eyes, ok? Don't look through them. That’s how you make sure that you hold the attention of the audience and you make as many people as possible feel that you care about them, thus making them follow what you are saying.
And you also have to look at the jury as much as you look at the audience. Don't look only at the jury or only at the audience. You have to pay attention to both. When the jury asks you questions, you are allowed to make eye contact just with your interlocutor. It's ok.
What NOT to do when giving a pitch
Never start a speech with "Hello, I'm X, please excuse me, I'm very nervous". NEVER! Nobody cares that you feel nervous, so keep that to yourself. Feeling nervous is normal, we all feel nervous at times, but if you verbalize them at the beginning of your speech or during it, people will not empathize with you, and you only risk setting low expectations for them.
Mark Twain said: "there are two types of public speakers: those who are nervous and those who lie about not being nervous". And that is the pure truth. Even I, as a presenter, with a lot of events under my belt already, am still nervous when I step on the stage to open an event. But I have identified the source of those emotions and now I can channel them into something positive.
If you make a very obvious mistake, use your sense of humor. Resort to self-irony and make a little joke. You can say that you are so hungry that you have started eating your words, that your words are beating you to a prize, that you are an inventor and you are innovating the lexical field as well. There are many options. It doesn't have to be a joke that gets the whole room burst out laughing, but one that helps you gracefully get over a moment of slight speech block.
If you're completely at a loss for words or ideas, don't panic. Just shut up. Don't try to fill time with random words. Breathe for a few seconds, get your thoughts in order and continue.
Don't overlook the jury's questions! If you don't understand the question 100%, say that or respectfully ask the jury to rephrase the question because it is not clear to you. Rather than risk wasting precious Q&A seconds trying to argue the wrong point, and then have the jury come back to the question, you're better off saving time directly and expressing confidence with a clear answer.
You are presenting your work, you are giving a presentation that you have worked hard on and gone over so many times and you know very clearly what you have achieved so far through your work. Public speaking is the same. You've worked so hard to get to this point, so now it’s time to get a grip, realize that everybody feels nervous now and then and that’s perfectly normal.
Embrace how you feel! No one in the audience came to laugh at you, the only thing they can do is “hit” you with some funding. So get a grip and remember that your job is not that of a presenter. No one is hunting your mistakes, the audience is there just to hear your idea.
So, be brave! Be brave enough to step out of your comfort zone. I am convinced that no remarkable result in your life just happened to fall in your lap, but it was a result of your work, involvement, perseverance and passion. So you have to step out of your comfort zone now and deliver a successful pitch that will bring you the funding you want.
Tone of voice - use a warm, calm and firm tone. Try to use voice inflections – they will help you highlight certain information that you want to stick in the audience's mind. Even though you may feel pressured or nervous during your pitch, it's important to remember that if there's anyone who can fully and accurately describe your business, it's you. I am sure that you can make your audience feel as passionate about your business as you feel!
Pace of speech - Keep a steady pace and try not to rush too much, so that the audience can hear everything you have to say correctly and completely.
Gestures - don't gesture excessively. You risk agitating the audience and drawing too much attention to your movements. Use gestures moderately, and each gesture should reinforce a piece of information in your speech.
Small mistakes - don't let them freeze you - if you make a mistake during the speech, you can use your sense of humor or you can start the sentence again and continue your idea.
Contact with the audience - look equally across the entire room. Whether you have an audience of two people or an audience of 500 people, it does not matter. You have to speak to all of them, regardless of their number.
Jury/audience questions - make sure you don't overlook them. If you don't understand the question 100%, you can ask the person who asked it to repeat or rephrase it. Rather than risk wasting precious Q&A seconds trying to argue the wrong point, and then have the jury come back to the question, you're better off saving time directly and expressing confidence with a clear answer.
Last, but not least, courage - be brave enough to step out of your comfort zone. No remarkable result in your life just happened to fall in your lap, but it was a result of your work, involvement, perseverance and passion. So you have to step out of your comfort zone now and deliver a successful pitch that will bring you the funding you want.
Pitch Deck Template
Use the structure in this template to create a Pitch Deck for investors and pitching competitions