As the author of POP! Create the Perfect Pitch, Title and Tagline for Anything (which Seth Godin calls “Revolutionary” and Ken Blanchard says is a “lively guide to getting results”), I’m often asked to coach funding pitches.
I had the pleasure of delivering the luncheon keynote for the Ignite Clean Energy Summit in Boston for the MIT Center for Enterprise awhile back.
Following my presentation, I conducted on-the-spot coaching of the national semi-finalists who were all developing “green” businesses.
Based on feedback from the group, the following POP! Your Pitch tips were particularly helpful in helping them create winning pitches they presented to potential investors the following day.
These tips work whether you’re delivering a pitch, making a sales presentation or speaking at a conference. Use this checklist to prep so you capture and keep everyone’s favorable interest of listeners and win the funding you deserve.
POP! Your Pitch Tip #1:
Say something surprising in the first 60 seconds that gets peoples’ eyebrows up. Three“Did you know?” questions that introduce startling statistics or recent research is a great way to turn a monolog into a dialogue and motivate people to look up from their devices and decide you’re worth listening to.
POP! Your Pitch Tip #2.
The purpose of a venture capital pitch is NOT to get funding; it’s to get a follow-up meeting. It’s idealistic to think an investor is going to give you millions after a ten-minute pitch. It’s realistic to sufficiently intrigue and impress decision-makers in ten minutes so they’re compelled to find out more.
POP! Your Pitch Tip #3.
Turn audience members into word-of-mouth advertisers by crafting a “money phrase” people can repeat, word for word, after hearing it once. If they can’t repeat it, they can’t remember it. Craft an AIR-tight sound bite by using Alliteration, Iambic Meter, and Rhyme. For example, “Click it or ticket” is better than “Buckle Up for Safety.” I helped an Ignite Clean Energy team come up with “Any plug, anytime, anywhere” as a tagline for their electric car.
POP! Your Pitch Tip #4.
Insert a one-minute success story about how clients have benefited from your company so decision-makers have context (not just content) and connect with you on an emotional and logical level. As the former Pitch Coach for Springboard Enterprises (which has helped women entrepreneurs receive $6.6 billion (yes, that’s a “b”) in venture capital, I helped Lauren Williams of Movie Hatch craft a success story about a client who went from having his film collecting dust on a closet shelf to winning the Jackson Hole film festival in less than 4 months. Her 60-second example provided compelling proof of concept.
POP! Your Pitch Tip #5.
Your confidence and leadership capacity is indicated by the authority and volume of your voice. If people can’t hear you, they won’t respect you. They conclude you don’t have the command and clout to carry off your venture. I once saw a CEO of a Fortune 100 company lose a corporate audience at a national convention in the first sixty seconds because she had a little-girl voice that ended with an upward inflection that made her seem tentative and hesitant.
POP! Your Pitch Tip #6.
Your business name is a deal-maker or deal-breaker. Do people “get” your business name the first time you say it? If they don’t understand it, they can’t relate to it and they won’t want it. Zappos, Google, and Yahoo are all fun to say. Arxcis, GPM Technologies, Sempran and other difficult-to-pronounce-or-understand names make people go “huh?” Remember, confused people don’t say YES. You’ve spend months (years?) developing your idea and organization. Invest in its success by giving it a meaningful, strategic, easy-to-remember name people relate to and repeat. (My can help you do this.)
POP! Your Pitch Tip #7.
PROPS! When you show or demonstrate your product, people SEE what you’re SAYING. Show and tell is more convincing than tell, tell, tell. I coached Kathleen Callendar of PharmaJet on how to make her elevator speech crystal clear., Instead of describing her “biodegradable medical delivery device for subcutaneous inoculations” she said, “Did you know 1.8 billion injections are given every year? Did you know up to half are given with unsafe needles? Did you know we’re spreading the very diseases we’re trying to prevent?.” She then held up a baggie with a “used needle” and contrasted it with her 100% safe, one-use needle. Her visual proof provided memorable, deal-closing evidence.
POP! Your Pitch Tip #8.
Tower, don’t cower. Your leadership is perceived by your posture. A fig-leaf position means you have something to hide. Slouched shoulders and a tucked-down head are signs of insecurity. I coach clients to see speaking as a sport. Adopt an athletic “ready” stance (feet a foot or more apart, not together) with your knees slightly bent so you’re grounded yet able to move naturally. Hold your head high and your hands 6-12 inches apart, like you’re holding a basketball. Don’t grip the lectern or clasp your hands together (both connote nervousness). Look everyone “in the eye” so they feel connected to you.
POP! Your Pitch Tip #9.
The two most powerful words in a pitch? “For example.” Back up each claim with a real-life example with quantifiable metrics and measurable evidence (i.e., 30% increase in sales, 20% reduction in turnover, took company public with a $10 million profit, grew an organization to 300 employees) so investors know you’ve delivered bottom-line results before and can be trusted to do so again. Put us in the scene and re-enact the example with “He said, I said” dialogue so it comes alive and people feel they’re in the room as if it’s happening right now.
POP! Your Pitch Tip #10.
Don’t just ask for the sale – plant-specific action seeds by offering three follow-up options including where you can be found immediately afterward. Always repeat your name to imprint it. If you don’t, you’ll be out of sight, out of mind. For example, “I’m Chris, in the green jacket, with CleanerGreenerNow. I’ll be (point) in the lobby at our next break. If you’d like a product sample, a copy of our financial projections, or to talk with our COO about how we’re going to scale this in the next six months, please come and talk with us. I look forward to your questions and to seeing you in the lobby at 2:30.”
Want to see a couple of these ideas in action? Check out my TEDx talk which demonstrates how to open a pitch – or ANY presentation – with the “Did You Know?” sequence so you engage your audience in the first sixty seconds.
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Sam Horn – CEO of the Intrigue Agency, author of POP! IDEApreneur andWashington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? – helps people create one-of-a-kind projects that scale their influence – for good. Her work has been featured in New York Times, Forbes and on NPR. Her highly interactive, inspiring presentations receive raves from such clients as NASA, Accenture, National Geographic, Cisco, and Capital One. Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency to arrange for Sam to speak to your group or to inquire about consulting/coaching.