Five Steps Towards Making A Great Pitch

Dr. Woe
09 jun 2015

“Five minutes to tell the whole story of a business? It’s too short!”

That’s what Startups and Corporate Innovation teams that I coach in making short, sharp pitches often tell me. They have to show what they are working on in a very short time, in contrast to most presentation situations that usually give 15-30 minutes, or more, to tell a whole story.

So here are five steps towards making a resource-winning pitch in a very limited time.

1. You’re not pitching the business plan.

In fact, you’re pitching the highlights, so that you can engage in a more informal conversation later. Forget the ambition to tell everything – just focus on triggering thoughts and ideas that will move the audience into asking you more about your business or project.

The next step in doing this is, before creating any slides…

2. Write down who the audience is

What do they look like? What do they wear? How old are they? What interests them: Money? Sustainability? Prestige? Are they technical, theoretical, practical? The answers to these questions will drive your pitch.

Now you’ve identified who your audience is, it’s time to get your ideas out of your head and…

3. Brainstorm with Post-It Notes to get the story straight

Most people start their presentation by opening software: PowerPoint, KeyNote, Prezi etc. But the first task is to get the story straight – and then work on the slides.

Take the ideas out of your mind by brainstorming using Post-Its. Then take a step back and ask yourself; What are the big issues here? What should I focus on? What is the most logical way to organise this content?

As you do this, you may need to use…

4. The Power of Three

In a short pitch, the audience may only remember three things. You can actively decide and drive which three things they will remember, by looking through your Post-Its and deciding what the key words or concepts are. When you reflect on your Post-Its, you will almost certainly find that three big things will jump out at you!

Once you identify them, you can tell the audience upfront, ‘Our company is all about A, B and C’. Or, ‘There are three important points about this project: here’s the first, which is A…’ and so on.

Once you have established the problems you are fixing and how you will fix them, you need one more thing – and that’s…

5. A Clear Call To Action

A pitch is always an ‘Ask’ – you are looking for investment for your business, resources for your project, or buy-in from management. Being clear and transparent about what you need, and how much of it you need, will make it much easier for the audience to divide into ‘Interested’ and ‘Not Interested’, and that will save you time in your follow up.

In addition to all this, there are other key elements – such as how you open and close your pitch, how to ensure you finish on time, and how to memorise a script: all essential for any short pitch.

Get these basics right, and you are already 80% of the way towards having a successful pitch.

David Beckett is onze engelstalige pitch coach, TEDx sprekercoach en de bedenker van The Pitch Canvas ©.