by Dan McCarthy, event manager for Venueseeker
If you’re trying to find funding for your business or product, it’s wise to consider finding investors. Not only can you receive an influx of cash, but many investors will be willing to partner with you—increasing your chances of success.
A huge part of the process is knowing how to pitch your product or idea to the investors. You need more than just an appealing pitch deck; you’re also going to need to convey your expertise, passion, and business savvy through your pitch.
Preparing for a big investor pitch? Here are a few simple do’s and don’ts that will help you pitch effectively:
Tell a story.
Investors want to hear the “story” of how your product or business solves a problem or meets a need. They want to hear how a problem you had or saw led you to create the ultimate solution. That story will get investors interested on a personal level and compel them to stick around long enough to hear more.
Keep it simple.
Simplicity is vital for a good pitch session. Investors don’t want all the nitty gritty in the presentation (though they will expect it in the documents/packet you provide them). Keep the pitch as simple as possible, focusing on the product and what it can do. Avoid jargon and technical talk. Trim your pitch down to something anyone can understand in 30 to 60 seconds.
Tailor the presentation.
You’re not going to completely overhaul your pitch deck or presentation in every appointment, but there should be a certain amount of personalization in your presentations. Make sure that the story you tell or the information you present is crafted to your audience as precisely as possible.
Speak with confidence.
Investors have given you a meeting because they find merit in what you have to say, so be confident with your product or service. Even if you’re feeling a bit nervous, speak with confidence in what you have to offer. Confidence is the most effective sales tool.
Be clear on your exit and reward strategies.
Potential investors will want to know these two things right from the get-go. Once you explain the product or service and the required investments, lay out the reward and exit strategies for investors. Make it clear that your goal is for them to succeed through your company.
Know what you have to offer and what you DON’T have.
Your product isn’t sliced bread or Velcro: it’s not the end-all solution to every problem on Earth. It is, however, going to solve a very specific problem or cater to a specific need. You need to know exactly what your product is, but also what it ISN’T. No investor is going to take your product seriously if you try to position it as an expert on everything.
Yes, I know that’s easier said than done, but it’s vital that you relax and unwind before the presentation. Spend a few moments listening to music, reading a book, or taking your mind off the presentation as you’re sitting in the waiting room. You’ve invested all the hard work preparing for this moment; don’t fudge it by getting too nervous.
Stop preparing beforehand.
There’s no such thing as “too much prep work” before going into a pitch presentation. The more market research you do, the better chance you have of impressing the investors with your business savvy. You’ll find they’re much more interested in backing someone who knows what they’re doing!
Fear the tough questions.
Repeat this to yourself: “There are going to be difficult questions that I may not be able to answer.” Investors may come up with questions you’re not prepared for or know how to respond to. Don’t be afraid of those questions—do your best to prepare for them. The more research you do, the less chance you’ll be caught off-guard by a tough question.
Hide from the competition.
The bigger your idea, the more competition there will be. Competition isn’t a bad thing; it usually means a lot of great minds are thinking alike. Be bold and make it clear to your investors how you’re going to challenge your competition for market space. Hiding from the competition will just make you seem inept and cowardly — two characteristics NO investor will want to work with.
Have a one-size-fits-all approach to pitching.
Above, we mentioned the importance of preparing your presentation according to your audience. We’re repeating it here because it’s THAT important. Pitching to VCs, angel investors, and competitors are all very different processes and include a different spectrum of information. Plan each pitch session according to the people you’re pitching.
Pitching to investors can be a nerve-wracking process, but it’s an important part of getting the funding you need. By following the steps above, you can improve your chances of pitching success!
Dan McCarthy has worked in the event management industry for five years and is currently an event manager for the UK-based company Venueseeker. His portfolio includes many successful event planning projects for companies across various niches, including startup conferences and trade shows. He is currently a regular contributor for his company’s blog site. Follow him on Twitter at @DanCarthy2 or LinkedIn.