With six years and countless pitchfests under our belts, TechSparks has seen a wide range of pitch styles. There are some pitches that I’ve found memorable and others that leave me confused or left with unanswered questions. Here are tips acing the pitch from some of the best:
1) Forget Memorization
You only have 30-seconds or a quick elevator ride and you don’t want to forget anything, so most people memorize and over practice their pitches. Once the lights are on, you are on stage and everyone is watching you, nerves kick in and things start to go haywire when you miss a word or a memorized cue. At TechSparks we encourage you to stop and try again (maybe with a beer in hand to relax a bit).
2) Try Bullet Points
Instead of word-for-word memorization, practice by listing out 3 key bullet points with topics that you want to address. When it’s time for the pitch, all you have to remember are the 3 key points you want to talk about which will then free you to stay on topic, as well as speak naturally and bring some personality and life into the presentation.
3) Just a little bit about yourself
Right now, it’s not about you, it’s about the idea. Share just enough to provide a point of reference or to help the listener relate your expertise to the idea you are about to share. Your introduction helps set the stage for your pitch and depending on what you share can help or hurt your cause. Often times, at TechSparks we’ve seen presenters confuse the audience by spending too much time talking about their professional background which doesn’t have anything to do with the idea being presented.
3) Relate or Share a Story
Boil down complicated ideas with a leading question (i.e. have you ever experienced x?) or short story (i.e. imagine you are an x), this will quickly engage the audience and get them up to speed with the problem you are addressing. The best pitches we have seen clearly and quickly describe the problem in the market and explain the solution with a frame of reference for the audience, such as, “our product is like the Uber for x.”
4) Less is More
When you are on stage presenting, time is a cruel enemy and 30-seconds feels like 3. The best strategy is to stick to the basics that are relevant to your story and your goals. Although it’s tempting to throw lot’s of details to support your pitch, it gets confusing to the audience and eats away your precious time. Stick to the old adage, when it doubt, leave it out.
5) Network to Loosen Up
As an introvert, I know that when you have to get on stage to present, it’s hard to focus on anything else before you complete your mission. One of the strategies that works to help me is to network and talk to a few people before I get up and present. By redirecting my inward attention to meeting someone new and learning something new, I both distract myself and make it easier once I get up and present because now I know a couple people in the room.
“When you find that all human beings are just like you, it fosters a spirit of friendship. You’ll find there's less need to hide things, and as a result, feelings of fear, self-doubt, and insecurity are automatically dispelled. What’s more you’ll earn the trust of other people.” - Dalai Lama
Take a deep breath, remember that everyone in the room are fellow humans and pitch like you are talking to a group of friends.