So you think you can pitch? Lessons from a disaster!
As a serial inventor and entrepreneur, I have spoken at international conferences and pitched my business in all sorts of places and to all sorts of people, but my last effort was a total disaster.
At StartupSmart’s ‘So You Think You Can Start-up’ pitching competition, I was unable to deliver my presentation. Why?
Here are my five dos and don’ts of pitching a start-up:
1. Be physically prepared
Why did I make such a mess of my pitch? The primary reason is that I did NOT prepare my body. On the day of the presentation, I was so focused on preparing that I simply forgot to eat or drink – my total consumption prior to arriving at the event at 6pm was one cup of coffee. Very stupid of me!
Pitching is about having it all together. If our mind is not properly looked after it will not function anywhere near its best, and when we are pitching a start-up, whether raising funding or in a competition, we need to be at our best. Make sure you eat and drink properly on the day of your pitch – it makes a significant difference.
2. Write it yourself
Unless you are an experienced speaker, write your own presentation. Why? Because then it is representative of how your mind thinks. When someone else writes a presentation for you, it may not flow in a sequence that is logical to your thought processes. This means your mind has to work harder to maintain the delivery sequence and you risk losing where you are in the presentation.
3. Be mentally prepared
Most of us already know and do this – to a degree. Know what you want to say, know how you are going to say it, know how long you have to say it and practice, practice, practice.
4. Know your bad habits
The moment your listener starts to focus on any bad habits you may have, then she/he is no longer listening to what you are saying. We all have them. Get a friend to help or, even better; get a speaking coach to help you. Once you understand what you are doing that may annoy or distract your audience, then you can start to eliminate it from your presentation. If you don’t want to get a coach, film yourself and watch it – understand the relationship between what you are saying and your body language.
5. Believe, relax and enjoy
Much easier said than done, but at the end of the day, you are following a passion or you wouldn’t be doing a start-up. Belief in your vision and confidence that you have a winning idea is the starting point of a great presentation.
David Whitfield is the founder and CEO of Australian digital geo-location company Geepers.