Thursday, November 26, 2009

Perfecting the Pitch

It must that time of the season! Over the past 2 weeks I have seen over thirty (30!) Investor Pitches - some over the plate and some clearly off in fowl territory. With Angel, Venture and Government programs gearing up for the end of the year and "In the spirit of giving" let's to summarize some of the keys in "Throwing the Strike".

The Deck - As cruel as it may sound, the initial investor pitch is scheduled for 8 to 10 minutes. Many CEO's find this tough to condense the years they have worked on their venture into something so concise. A crisp 10 charts will provide the Entrepreneur with a flexible template to work within the tight time frame. If the potential Investors really love the story, there will be lots of time for more PowerPoint charts and models. The Charts themselves should be Clean (uncluttered, "less is more"), Consistent (Logo, Font, Colours) and Visual (Pictures, Graphs, embedded Video).

The Story - Your pitch deck should tell a Concise story that takes the audience through a journey. The journey needs a Start (opening), the Middle (problem, solution, value proposition, financial model) and a Conclusion (Financial need, why invest in you, expected returns).

Strong Opening - It's proven that first impressions are lasting ones. With only 10 minutes on the podium it will be difficult to change perceptions if the first 30 seconds are cluttered, rambling or unfocused. Practice, but do not memorize your opening remarks - think about an interesting way to hook your audience such that they are "hungry" for the next chart in the deck.

Educate Me with Simplicity - Many investors that you are pitching to have limited knowledge of your Industry and Target markets. Provide us with a simplified version of your marketplace and value chains so that we can easily conceive how your products and services fit in.

Demo's - If you have a Demo as part of the pitch ensure that it has been "Canned" or "Burned" to a file that makes it Foolproof. Do not rely on the being able to connect to the net to access your demo. Be aware that presentation graphics built on Apple are not completely compatible when shown on a PC.

CEO Delivery - The CEO needs to be poised and articulate in the delivery of the key messages. Maintain excellent eye contact with your audience ensuring that your focus is scanning all aspects of the room. You are watching for body language and key hints that the messages are being appropriately received and translated. No "READING" of charts, No "BABBLING ON" in responding to questions and make No "EXCUSES" for the technology not working or the charts being too hard to read.

Strong Finish - Many CEO's forget to go for the CLOSE. "Tell Me what you plan on Telling Me (Opening), Tell Me (Middle) and then Tell Me what you Told Me (Close)." You need to ask for the order and have a convenient way of being contacted to negotiate your next steps.

'Tis the Season - Let's hope that these sound bites can improve your probability of throwing a strike into the the Batters Box.

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