The Most Epic Guide to
Pitch & Present For Startups, Small Business & New Ideas
Table of Contents Note from the Founders
Part 1 | Introduction Simplify Your Story Keep it Short & Concise Know your Audience
Part 2 | Practicing & Preparing Let’s Talk About Memorization… Time to Hit ‘Record’ Pretend It’s the Real Deal Come Prepared Building Slides That WORK & Using Them Properly Know Your Audience Other Prep Tips
Part 3 | The Pitch Speaking & Presenting Tips Got stage fright? Using slides during the pitch Opening the pitch What to include in the pitch... Tips for talking numbers... Sealing the deal & ending with a bang...
Part 4 | Question & Answer Answering Investor/Judges Questions
A note from the founders... Hey there! Thanks for snagging your copy of The Ultimate Pitch Guide. We’re thrilled for you to dive in & craft your perfect pitch. Public speaking is scary enough on it’s own, let alone when there are high stakes. You should be proud for taking this step to not just work on your pitching skills, but your business relationship skills as a whole. Whether you’re speaking with investors, pitching in a competition, or simply trying to find partners, mentors, or advisors, having a great pitch is ESSENTIAL to startup success. From our experience, we’ve learned just how important it is to be able to pitch your idea on the fly & talk about it on a daily basis. We’ve lost tons of opportunities because we didn’t give the right pitch to the right audience. We’ve also made huge strides in our startup because we finally figured it out & starting making the right pitch to the right audience. It took a lot of practice & rejection, but we’re so excited to pass on this knowledge to you! So, without further adieu, let’s dive right in. Onward,
Maggie & Jon
“The purpose of an elevator pitch is to describe a situation or solution so compelling that the person you’re with wants to hear more even after the elevator ride is over” – Seth Godin
If you havenâ€™t gone through our Ultimate Elevator Pitch Guide & Template, download it for FREE here.
What is it?
Elevator pitches condense your idea into 1 minute or less (The amount of time you might have on an elevator... get it!?).
levator pitches are useful for a variety of reasons. Whether youâ€™re pitching to investors, looking for potential partners, or simply telling someone about your startup, a concise elevator pitch is essential. Having a great elevator pitch in your back pocket will help you make the best of brief encounters with potential investors & stakeholders at parties or business events. You can use it in every networking encounter.
Pitching is an art form in itself. It takes practice, patience, & passion. -Maggie Barton
Our team has done countless pitches. Some went great, others failed miserably. The one unfortunate truth about pitching is that practice makes perfect. You’ve got to put yourself out there as much as possible to craft the perfect pitch. We put together this book to keep you from committing rookie mistakes that entrepreneurs make when pitching in a competition, event or to investors. If you use these tips, you’ll be sure to stand out among a sea of ideas & be memorable to your audience.
This book was created with pitch competitions in mind. You can use these tips for investor pitches, classroom presentations, other public demos, & more. Just be sure to KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. This will help you clarify your “ask”. You might not always be pitching for money. Instead, you might be looking for advisors, partners, or team members. Either way, if you implement these tips, you’ll knock it out of the park.
A note before diving in:
Failing to Plan = Planning to Fail â€“ SPUR
Practicing & Preparing
Let’s talk about memorization… First Things First. Here’s the quick & dirty: Memorization DOES NOT work. We repeat, it does not work. If you’re plan is to memorize your entire pitch… ABORT ABORT! Why? Because your pitch depends on who you’re pitching to. Always. Every pitch will be different. Your audience will care about different things. Here’s a personal example. At SPUR, our pitch to Universities to incorporate our offering into the classroom is a totally different one than what we would give to an investor. Either way, we’re talking to stakeholders here. There are some similarities in the pitch, but also major differences. Everyone wants to know what’s in it for them. We suggest using that approach to tailor your pitch correctly.
AVOID SCRIPTS: Make an outline of your pitch. Memorizing word for word doesn’t work. You need to be prepared to wing it at any second. You don’t want to slip up on one word & have it through off your whole train of thought.
If you MUST memorize... memorize key phrases you want to make sure you articulate.
Here are some things you DO want to have memorized so you don’t even have to think about it
Your numbers Your ask
Your value prop
Key features of your product
In Summary: Memorization is a skill you can leverage for certain parts of your pitch, but relying on it just wonâ€™t work in your favor. More than anything, you want the listener to think youâ€™re someone they can connect with. When you memorize the ENTIRE pitch, you sound like a robot. Memorizing actually makes you come across as less skilled.
Time to hit ‘Record’ Record Yourself (Seriously!) There’s a reason we mention it several times in this booklet. It will make or break your performance. This step requires no technical skill or equipment whatsoever. Use your phone or laptop & record yourself going through your pitch. Be critical of yourself- what would you want someone else to tell you if you were receiving the same presentation. Show your best recording to friends & family for feedback.
Ask them to tell you what they took away from the pitch. Then you’ll know if you’re getting your message across clearly.
Watch Your Video.
Look for some of these red flags: Fidgeting & pacing back & forth Areas where you repeat yourself Key points you skipped over Areas that were too wordy Picking your nose without thinking about it...jk...unless you see yourself doing that Any filler words (um, like, so, you know, etc.) Silence is better than mumbling & â€˜umsâ€™ every time!
“Silence is the space you put between the notes that make the music.” – Massimo Vignelli
Pretend it’s the Real Deal Remember to practice running through with your slides with a clicker to make sure you are familiar enough with the content. You don’t want to look at the slides during your presentation. Practice in the clothing you will wear for the pitch. You don’t want to find yourself fidgeting in your suit or shifting your weight back & forth in your uncomfortable shoes. Also, this means automatic confidence boost!
Come Prepared Prepare Materials for Your Pitch. You’ll want to hand each judge/investor…
Printouts of slides. Our favorite format: 3 slides per page, one sided (so they aren’t distracted flipping the pages over while you’re speaking).
A copy of your Executive Summary/One-Pager.
Psssst! If you need help piecing together your one-pager, check out our Idea Blueprint! It does the work for you.
A printout page of your financial analysis.
Could be in your appendix of your slide deck if needed.
Possibly a full copy of your business plan.
A business card
Preferably all in a nice folder! All impressions matter.
Building Slides that WORK & using them properly Use Slides as an Outline. Theyâ€™re a tool for highlighting key points, stats, & numbers. Everything on your slides should have a critical purpose. You might want to show everything you know, but show what the audience needs to know to understand your idea. Donâ€™t try to get everything on the slides, get just enough for you to talk around. When communicating your key points/features, pick 3 & feature them on one slide. For help using the slides during your pitch, see Part 3: The Pitch
Your Handy Dandy
Slide Design Checklist Keep them simple visually, but show you put effort into design. Use the slides to tell your story. They should have a nice flow to them. Use visuals, like imagery & graphs. Don’t use over animated text or slides. It’s distracting & childish. Stick to your brand. Establish color schemes & fonts Make sure slides are legible.
Text & backgrounds should contrast
Text should not be smaller 30pt
Pictures shouldn’t be grainy
If you have a graph, make it easy to read
If the judges are paying more attention to your slides than they are to you, you need to regain their attention.
One last rule of thumb:
â€œNo audience ever complained about a presentation or speech being too shortâ€? - Stephen Keaguev, The Little Red Handbook of Public Speaking & Presenting
Know your Audience If in a Competition, Seriouslyâ€Ś READ THE COMPETITION PACKET Most competitions will provide a criteria or even templates of what they are expecting. Carefully read these & ensure that you prepare any requested supplemental material. Do it ASAP. You might find that things will take longer to prepare that you expected. Or youâ€™ll do it at the last minute & wish you had time the to run it by a professor or mentor. Figure out who the judges are, their backgrounds, & passions. A solid understanding of your audience leads to a perfectly crafted pitch.
Other Prep Tips Plan to have someone you know attending (if itâ€™s an open competition) even if you have to drag them there & apologize later!
Knowing that you have a familiar face in the crowd will ease your mind. And if you get nervous you can always default to looking at them for a little bit to collect yourself.
You could also make them a part of your pitch! If you want to have audience participation, tell them to get the ball rolling.
Pitch to your family or friends! The more you say it out loud the better, youâ€™ll feel more comfortable and confident. They might also give you some tips or note places they got lost.
Make people interrupt you during practice so you can prepare for distractions during the real thing.
The Day Before... Get a good nightâ€™s rest the night before! If you followed the other tips, you should feel prepared & be prepared before the competition day. Treat yo self! The day of, do something for yourself, be it picking up a frappuccino, watching the episode of your favorite show that you missed because you were preparing, or hanging out with a friend. This will put you in a good mood & shake off those pre-pitch jitters.
“Tell me & I forget. Teach me & I remember. Involve me & I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin
Speaking & Presenting Tips When You Speak Talk slower than you think you should, we often rush ourselves in the moment. Speak clearly & with authority, if you don’t believe in yourself, why should the audience? Be confident in what you’re saying.
Fake it till you make it- if you mess up, simply correct yourself & MOVE ON.
Don’t get hung up on one small mistake.
Remember that the judges don’t know what your exact pitch is that you rehearsed. If you veer off track of your ‘script’ they won’t know, as long as you don’t let yourself get hung up on it.
Presenting Yourself Dress the part, depending on the environment & your audience. Always remember you can’t over dress.
Wearing a suit is always a safe bet. You want to look professional & be taken seriously.
BUT you DON’T have to wear a suit if your company culture is more lax & playful. A company branded t-shirt is a safe bet if you’re going with this route.
If you decide to not dress business-professional, you should still look put together & purposeful. (AKA not like you rolled out of bed.)
MOVE. You are allowed to move. You don’t want stand there & sway or look like a robot presenting. Work your way across the stage & back maybe once. Be animated & if appropriate use your hands to communicate. This will make you seem like you are calm & confident up there adding authority to what you say.
“There are two types of speakers: Those who get nervous & those who are liars.” – Mark Twain
Got stage fright? You’re Not Alone. Here’s How to Make Public Speaking a Little Less Painful… Find a few spot on the back wall & stare at those while you talk, the audience will think you are looking at them. Have someone you know in the audience. That way, if you get nervous, you can just look at them & continue on. Make it conversational. Take the pressure off yourself & explain the idea like you would to your peers. We all know you talk about this idea to your parents, friends, & new people you meet. Do deep breathing & center yourself. Calm your mind before going on stage.
Using slides during the pitch Use the deck to prompt yourself. Have bullet points pop up in the order you want to talk about them. It can help you stay on track. Itâ€™s okay to gesture at the slides during your presentation, but donâ€™t BY ANY MEANS, EVER, read directly from the slides or turn your back on the audience. Point out visuals on the slide, explain why they are there. For tips on slide design, see Part 2: Preparing & Practicing
No. 1 Rule:
Never Read Your Slides from
Opening the pitch Open with Something Interesting. Here are Some Ideas… Mention how you came up with your idea. Did you have a personal experience? Tell a story or something to connect to the judges or an investor personally is a great way to kick off a pitch. Open with a question. Take a quick survey by asking a question to the audience. IMPORTANT: Make sure it’s pretty obvious so the majority of them raise their hands. For example, let’s say you have an app that allows people to save time commuting to work. You could open with, “How many of you have been late to work or an important meeting because of traffic? Cut straight to the demo (if you feel your prototype is strong). Give a quick demo, let the audience play with it & observe it, this can even be a video of it in action if it isn’t something they can engage with in that setting.
Opening No-No’s Don’t forget to introduce yourself & be grateful to the judges for their time. Don’t open spouting off big numbers. If you have big numbers in your stats, give your audience something that provides context for those numbers.
For example, the founder of Nest, Matt Rogers, didn’t open his pitch saying people waste X units of energy. Instead, he said that the amount of energy was more than what was being produced by all US power plants combined.
What to include in the pitch... Explain these Points Clearly You will want a slide for each topic.
Intro slide: What your product or service is
What problem itâ€™s solving
What is unique about your product or service & how it solves the problem
Who your target market is
How you will find customers
How you plan to make money (what your revenue model is)
Who your team is
What your ask is
Demonstrate Your Success Judges or investors are more likely to buy in if you’re speaking in facts, not just hypothetical. Show any success up to this point. Even if you only have a few sales, demo users, or social following. If you don’t have sales, show other things that validate your idea is needed & wanted, like customer surveys & interviews. Find ways to test your idea on a shoestring budget.
Show You’ve Put Your Own Money into It Nothing shows commitment from an entrepreneur more than putting your own money into an idea. Even if it’s a few hundred dollars. Talk about a test or prototype you funded. Show you’re willing to take on the risk personally. Highlight any intellectual property opportunities to give yourself a competitive advantage. If you don’t have a prototype, make one. Even if it’s a little clunky. Then back it up with more detailed schematics. Show what could be possible if you had the funding.
Tips for talking numbers... Round your numbers. Looking at financials on a screen is overwhelming. Round your numbers to the nearest thousand. Make your revenue & expenses look clean. Leave out decimals. If a judge pipes up & says they don’t look precise enough, tell them the numbers are rounded & you’re happy to provide them with a more detailed forecast & expense breakdown later. Paint the big picture, but be realistic. There might be a market for your product that could get you to make $500 million. But that doesn’t mean you’re going to capture that much of your market in the next three years. Show them the market size, then address how you expect to capture a small percentage of that market.
Sealing the deal & ending with a bang... When you close, reiterate that you’re thankful for the listener’s time. Closing by saying “I hope you enjoyed my presentation” makes you look less confident. You rocked that presentation, know people enjoyed it. Instead, close by saying “come speak with me after if you’re interested in hearing more or getting involved.”
He Who Knows All the Answers Has Not Been Asked All the Questions â€“ Confucius
Question & Answer
Answering Investor/ Judges Questions Taking Questions There are some obvious questions you can expect investors & judges to ask about (like your financial assumptions). Anticipate them in advance & have prepared answers for them. Ask for clarity on the question if you’re unsure what they are asking about. Don’t take the chance of looking unprepared if a judge was actually unclear. Repeat the question to the audience, who likely won’t hear it. This step helps you ensure you are actually answering their question. Take time to think about the question. It’s okay to have a few seconds of silence.
It’s Finally Here...
Answering Time! If you don’t have the answer, tell them. Then say you will figure it out asap & thank them for bringing it up. Answer their question! This sounds silly, but we have seen COUNTLESS people give an answer that was way out of the ball park. Be concise & direct. Appoint someone on your team (or drag a friend) to take notes of the questions so you can refer back to them after the pitch. If you’re speaking with an investor, be prepared for them to interrupt with questions mid-pitch. Simply answer it & then go back to what you were talking about. Be passionate. Show the judges how hard you’ve worked for this & how badly you want this. Make them believe in you & your vision.
Most importantly: Remember to have
fun. These tips are just points to guide you along the way. There are not concrete rules to making your pitch perfect. Experiment with different techniques & storylines. Be yourself. And remember to look like you’re enjoying it.
Just a Few..
Book Notes All contents copyright © 2017 by SPURstartup, LLC. All rights reserved. This document is intended for personal use only & no part of it may be translated, shared, reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher. The publisher has used its best efforts in preparing this document, & the information provided herein is provided “as is.” SPURstartup, LLC makes no representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this document & specifically disclaims any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for any particular purpose & shall in no event be liable for any loss of profit or any other damage, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. The information in this document is educational in nature & is provided only as general information. If you have downloaded this document from a source other than http://spurstartup.com, please kindly delete it & contact us by email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line, “Ultimate Pitch Guide”.
Â© 2017 by SPURstartup, LLC. All rights reserved.
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