In December, we’ll be holding our annual demo day to show off what our startups have been getting up to. So we thought we’d write up a post in the spirit of demo days, and note down 5 of the biggest issues to avoid for the right pitch.
The first, and most often-made error in pitching is speaking too quickly. Totally understandable, seeing as you’re standing on stage in front of a crowd of would-be investors and industry insiders trying to convince them to give you money or recognition. So out of nervousness, you end up speeding through your pitch — forgetting that no one in the audience is as knowledgeable about your product as much as yourself, and not given them enough time to digest all the information.
You’ll typically have 5 to 7 minutes to walk through your idea. Not a whole lot of time, but the point of the pitch isn’t getting down to every technical detail and please everyone. It’s hooking the interest of the audience and helping them see why your solution is necessary for the problem you’ve spotted. They can always come to you for a longer chat afterwards, but they won’t approach you if you’ve sprinted through your slides without a chance for the audience to understand what you’re presenting.
2. Going too broad
Another mistake is trying to please everyone in the crowd. We see startups jamming as many customer groups and use cases into their product as possible so they can appeal to anyone and everyone. This could work in the rare case, but often by over-generalizing you end up falling short and sound unconvincing, like you haven’t really thought through who your specific market might be. You might have four different products that you can pitch, but pick just one or two to focus on for the pitch — tailor it to the crowd, or those in the crowd you want to target — and just briefly mention the others. Remember, you can always go into more detail in the post-pitch discussions. The point of the pitch is always to get the interest of your audience.
3. Essay slides
A pitch deck you present with should be different from the pitch deck you send through for someone to read. The presentation pitch deck should be simple, with few slides, and a minimal amount of text. When you see a slide come up with paragraphs describing the problem and solution, you end up reading the text instead of listening to the speaker, so the effectiveness of the pitch is distracted. Give yourself room to be compelling, so the attention falls on what you’re saying about your product. That way, it feels more dynamic and engaging, and less like you’re sitting through a university lecture.
4. Ambiguous sign-offs
The sign-off is important. You should let your audience know when the pitch is over. You can have an end slide saying ‘Thank You’ and pop your contact details on, or just say ‘Thank you for your time, I’d be happy to chat more about this with you’. A lot of the time, though, we see teams just trail off awkwardly, with something like ‘… um… and that’s it’.
Don’t do that. Let the audience know when you’re finished, and let them know you’re happy to talk afterwards.
5. Contact info
You might know the name of your startup like the back of your hand, but the audience won’t. Always prepare some materials to give out — a business card, a pamphlet, a branded pen — if someone approaches you after your pitch, have something ready that they can take away and use to contact you. In a pinch, add them on LinkedIn or write down their email, but it’s always better to have something prepared.
And that’s it, the 5 most common mistakes we see teams make at pitch events. Hope this helps your next pitch.