What’s the Best Way to Nail Your Pitch? Tell a Great Story
Every day, worthy business ideas don’t get funded because startups fail to inspire investors with their pitches. Bogged down with details or lacking a clear explanations of critical concepts, presentations often don’t communicate an overarching vision. Without hearing that passion, investors struggle to understand why they should care.
To avoid giving a lackluster pitch, it’s important to learn how to tell a really great story. Analogies, metaphors, and examples all serve to illustrate how your solution meets customer needs and fills a gap in the market without inundating listeners with facts and figures. Here are some pointers for telling your brand’s story so that you can stand out from the crowd, engage investors, and win them over.
Create a narrative based on your strengths
Since every company is at a different stage in its journey and has hit different milestones, look to build a narrative on your particular strengths.
If your company is just getting started, create a story around your team, your unique insights, and how you’re positioned to take advantage of a unique market opportunity.
If you’re already gaining traction in the market, your story could focus on the progress you’ve made, the road ahead, and potentially a killer product demonstration. Numbers and graphs are great illustrations for support, but they aren’t the key to selling your vision.
Set listener expectations
Think about your pitch like it’s a screenplay. You should aim to take everyone on a journey that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Design your narrative around this structure, and then give your listeners a map of that journey during the first five minutes of your pitch. This isn’t the time to go into detail, just provide the highlights. Your goal is to capture your listeners’ attention and earn their interest for the next 15 minutes.
Another approach is to provide a brief overview of the market opportunity, how your company capitalizes on it, and fast facts about your company, like employee numbers and funding stage.
Focus on what matters
Sometimes it’s difficult to stand back from your story and distinguish the key points from the minutia. However, this is a crucial skill of any good storyteller. You can’t start your story from the very beginning, tell it in detailed chronological order, and not expect to put your audience to sleep.
Audiences have short attention spans, so identify three key points that matter to them. Then make sure you illustrate those points with success stories, examples, or metaphors that engage your listeners’ imaginations. How your solution works is not as important as its effectiveness.
Stay tuned to your audience
Think of your presentation as a conversation rather than a sales pitch. In other words, you should always tune into the room, pay attention to audience clues, and adjust what you’re saying if it’s not resonating.
Don’t be afraid to directly address questioning looks or stop in the middle to explain a point in a different way if your audience isn’t getting it. It’s important to recognize unvoiced questions and concerns because investors will bring them up behind closed doors when you’re gone.
Afterwards, return to your story and preserve its structure. You’ve designed it to build toward a conclusion, which is that investors really need to invest in you. Make your case.
Keep it real
Investors aren’t just evaluating your business, they’re assessing your personality. They want to gain a sense of what you’ll be like to work with. While you want to tell a story that’s positive and successful, guard against seeming over-confident. It’s a big red flag.
Instead, admit to yourself and others that building a business is difficult. If investors ask questions about potential problems or voice their concerns, respond with frankness and honesty. What’s important is that you have the leadership skills to bring your team through rough patches, as well as the wisdom to seek advice when you don’t have answers.
Every pitch is an opportunity to improve your storytelling skills. Rather than worrying about making the deal, stay focused on demonstrating your passion for your company. If you can achieve that, you’ll be halfway toward your goal.
It doesn’t matter that you haven’t mastered public speaking. What’s important is that you’re genuine, inspiring, and compelling. Keep that in mind and you’ll convince investors you’re the company for them.