Every year we host one of the largest pitch events in the southeast at Venture Connect, March 17-19. 100+ companies get on stage to share their story to hundreds of potential investors hoping to connect with the 3-5 that may actually invest in a company in their sector and at their stage. In addition, we run a program called Connect to Capital 365-days-a-year that makes curated introductions between entrepreneurs and investors. Needless to say, I see a lot of pitches. While a few are interesting and compelling. Most need a lot of work.
Here’s a few short ideas to help you make a more compelling presentation
- It’s a story! There is a lot written on what elements make up a compelling story (here and here are just two). The point of starting with a story outline is so you engage the audience you most want to connect with, you take them on a journey (in whatever time allotment you have) so as to have the best chance of asking them to join you in the next chapter of the journey. This is one reason why I never ever like handing out “templates’ to presenters.
- Good editing is the key to effective presentation. Almost all pitch events are going to have a time limit (our current event has both a 4-minute and an 8-minute pitches–Ted talks have perfected the 11-minute cycle). Your job is not to cram the most amount of stuff you can within the time frame, rather it’s to communicate your complex message as clearly and precisely as possible. The hard part is to decide what to take out! This is hard and takes time. For each point you make it must add to your story, if it doesn’t take it out.
- Always have an ask. When you outline the story, you can start with the end in mind. “what do I want the people in this audience to do?” If I am raising capital, I want investors who can add value to my company (and write a check) to come seek me out. Now I know my ‘ask’ and can craft my story in order to create a compelling lead-in to that ask
- Practice. Practice. Practice. There’s an old joke (older than me) that goes, “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” The answer is, “Practice, Practice, Practice.” But seriously, standing on a stage of a large auditorium or convention center in front hundreds of people is a nerve racking experience, even for the most seasoned pro (but maybe you can learn to turn that anxiety and nervousness into positive energy and enthusiasm during the performance ). Add the pressure of trying to find new funding for your company plus the lights, cameras, video monitors, countdown clock, microphones and you have a high-stress situation. The more you can practice, standing up in front of people who don’t know you or your story, the better off you will be.
We offer pitch scrubs to all our presenting companies leading up to Venture Connect. That said, no group of experts can formulate your entire story in a one-hour scrub. The intent is to give each company a neutral, unaffiliated sounding board and a handful of data points to take away, absorb and use as they refine their story.
If you haven’t purchased your ticket to Venture Connect yet there is still time to sign up before the event and save. Don’t miss out on this year’s event where hundreds of amazing tech and life science companies come together.