Pitching to investors can be a process of absolute obsession. Business founders follow templates, research known models, and try to make sure there’s as much detail in their speeches as possible. But I’ve seen it backfire.
I’ve heard convoluted pitches that focused so much on logistics that no one in the audience knew what the product was. I’ve heard pitches that left people shaking their heads and wondering how a product would even work. I’ve heard pitches that ended with people leaving the room for coffee.
So how do you get it right? What’s the secret?
Honestly, it’s sometimes surprising simple: be clear. Have purpose.
My primary school sports teacher told me to ‘keep it simple, stupid’. I’d been elected head of athletics for my school and I wanted to knock it out of the park. He told me to stop overthinking.
Here’s a fun fact: no one likes overthinking. No one in the audience, not the investors, not the customers. If you can’t keep it simple, you’re going to lose.
A recent study showed that people who use simple language to convey their ideas are often considered smarter than those who try to impress with big words: the big word guys usually end up in the arrogant/confusing department.
So when it comes to your pitches, keep it simple. Cut out the jargon.
If a passer-by on the street can’t understand your pitch because ‘only people in the industry would get it’, then it’s a bad pitch.
They’re human. You’re human. Make yourself likeable.
You don’t need to insert a comedy routine or a movie quote to do this, either. You just need to explain where you came from, what in your childhood motivated you to make the decisions you’ve made, what you learnt from them – and how all that transformed into you identifying the problem that your product will ultimately solve.
This is standard storytelling, and it’s what makes for genuinely interesting pitches. Give your investors reason to believe that it’s not just your product that will stand the test of time, but you.
If a passer-by on the street can’t understand your pitch because ‘only people in the industry would get it’, then it’s a bad pitch.Click to tweet
The worst-case scenario is that a pitch ends with an investor wondering what exactly they’re meant to do, and how they can help. If they dislike the product, that’s life. If they pass simply because you didn’t give them a clear enough plan of attack, that’s a tragedy.
So when you pitch, let them know exactly what your plan is. What your projections are. How your business will grow and accomplish something new: but also, why you’re in the room. What you’re hoping to achieve, why you need the investors support, and how that will translate into success for everyone. Be specific. Give them the whys and the how’s.
Really, you want them thinking, ‘oh, this makes a whole lot of sense.’
Ultimately, pitching is about convincing someone that you’re a fit for their vision. That they can trust you and your idea to go out and make waves. But it’s also about what they’ll say at the dinner table that night to their family. Did you have an interesting background story? Did you demonstrate genuine excitement? After all, you’re not just selling an idea: you’re selling the whole package.
- Lena Klein