- Follow the rules of online meetings
Since this year *ship is going online, The Pitch Captain Competition will be fully digital as well. To make your pitch efficient and successful, you should follow simple online etiquette. While you are presenting, try to look into the camera on your device – that will create the vision of eye contact. Make sure your background is plain and your clothes do not have any distracting patterns. Also, do not forget to check all your equipment before pitching so that during your presentation nothing goes wrong.
- Get to the point fast.
It’s a known fact that attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Don’t waste time with preambles. Give them an overview of your compelling proposition quickly and you’re more likely to capture and hold your listener’s attention at the crucial start of your pitch.
- Don’t use too many slides.
Just about every venture capital expert will tell you to minimize the number of slides you use. This 10-slide deck will prevent you from going astray by adding too many slides. For inspiration, you can also view a gallery of some of the best startup pitch decks at Pitchenvy.
- Establish the need.
One of the questions that go through your listeners’ minds when they set out to listen to you is, “What problem are you trying to solve?” Convince them that there is a need. Give them a definite, concise statement of the problem, with an example or two illustrating the need. Show them how it affects people. Then follow up with your solution to address the need.
- Use a message map.
The message map is a tool to help pitch a complex idea, simply and quickly. It helps you explain your idea visually—on one page—in 15 seconds. This involves creating a Twitter-friendly headline, followed by three key benefits to support the headline. It ends with a reinforcement of the three benefits through stories, statistics, and examples.
- Use a multilevel structure to your pitch.
It is recommended to create three levels of depth in preparing your pitch: 5 seconds, 30 seconds, and 5 minutes. The 5-second version is a concise, single-sentence explanation of your idea. In the 30-second version, you explain how you plan to achieve your idea by providing just enough interesting detail to help the audience get a clearer understanding of what you are proposing. Once you are successful in scaling your idea down to 5 and 30 seconds, you can then broaden it to 5 minutes. Brevity is the key to the initial success of a pitch.
- State what’s your competitive advantage.
This is a crucial step. What is your competitive advantage? Show the audience how what you are pitching is better than what your competitors are offering—or at least, how it is different. Also, show any potential entrants in that space. What is your shield against those?
- Include a sound bite.
A sound bite is a short, catchy phrase. Most people don’t remember data, but they will remember a sound bite. A sound bite makes the message “stick”. We all remember Steve Jobs’ famous sound bite, “The world’s thinnest notebook” when he first introduced the MacBook Air. It pays to spend time to come up with just the right sound bite to catch your listeners’ attention but eventually, it will make your pitch more efficient.
- Introduce the team.
Your listeners want to have the confidence that you have a solid team to back you up. It doesn’t matter, where you put the slide about your team, as long as it’s there. Beware of breaking down, telling about every detail of the team’s achievements. Keep it relevant and high level, and include photos.
- Take “yes” for an answer.
As any seasoned salesperson will tell us, know when to stop selling your idea. Learn to read the signs that tell you your idea has hit home. The more you continue to talk beyond that point, the more you’re likely to say something that can reverse the positive direction.
- Know your next step.
Practice your next steps as hard as you practiced the pitch. People often enter a pitching situation with concerns about their chances of success. A positive response takes them by surprise, and they sometimes react like a deer caught in the headlights. Be ready for the next steps. What happens if you get a positive response? What do you want from your audience? Preparation will help you to move forward confidently.
- Regularly re-engage your audience’s attention.
An audience’s attention can decrease, especially during an extended online presentation. To keep the audience engaged, spread out your points over more slides, rather than less so that new slides appear on the screen periodically to bring wandering minds back to you and your message. To prevent listeners from tuning you out, pick up the pace. If you speak at a leisurely pace, you risk losing your virtual audience. You can also re-engage flagging attention with frequent change-ups or interruptions in your speaking pattern by asking a direct or rhetorical question, providing an example or two to explain a point or introducing a metaphor to bring a pivotal point to life, or showing a brief video clip that ties into your message.
- Don’t beg.
There’s a fine line between showing intense passion for your idea, product, or service and showing nervous fear of losing out. While a little anxiety is understandable, letting it take hold of you will work against you. It can make you adopt an attitude of begging, which never serves us well. Remember, the ultimate power is the power to walk away. If you truly believe your idea has merit, go in as an equal. This is not advocating arrogance. It’s simply asking you to be aware of emotional leakage that may derail you.