This is Part IV of a four part series.
On the final day of The Entrepreneur’s BootCamp we have each participant deliver a three minute pitch. No slides, notes, or props of any kind are allowed. Just you and three minutes in which to engage the audience and explain the target audience and the problem, your solution and how it gets the job done, why it is unique, and how you make money. It may seem a bit unfair, but as it turns out three minutes is enough time to convey the value that your idea creates for the target market at the intersection of desirability, feasibility, and viability.
I personally feel that too much time is spent in PowerPoint and not enough on the story and how to tell it. In Part II of this series I covered the content that should be covered in the fund raising process. This final post will focus more on delivery than content.
Tailor to the audience and allotted time - Find out up front how much time people have allotted for the meeting and do not try to fit ten pounds of sausage into a five pound casing. Find out what is important for the audience to know at a particular meeting and tailor the pitch to their interests and time. Do not plan to talk fast, or otherwise try to jam everything in that you hoped to convey. Do enough to get another meeting.
Be able to adjust on the fly - When a question comes up it generally isn’t good form to ask the investor to table it until you get to that slide. Part of being an entrepreneur is dealing with ambiguity. Show that you can be nimble and yet remain in control by answering the question and then returning to where you were. Don’t rehearse, but do know your story cold.
Tell a story - Try presenting without slides. Learn to tell a compelling story. When a President delivers the State of the Union, they do it without slides. The great orators also weave in stories as examples to help drive home a point. Know the important points that you want to drive home. Think about what you want to audience to remember and emphasize those points with key numbers and customer stories. Show that you’ve done your homework and that you can speak extemporaneously about your topic in depth if need be. Slides should only be used for clarification and as a leave behind. And by all means, never read from the slides.
Two ears, one mouth - Feedback will come in many forms - body language, expressions, questions asked, comments. Never argue with investors. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Make sure that you know what the question is that is being asked and why. If you have an answer give it. If you don’t, mark it as a follow up item. The nice thing about telling a story is that it can be conversational rather than a one way presentation. Conversation builds trust and rapport, which is what you are attempting to do. Sometimes you have to work hard to be people to your way of seeing things. Sometimes they won’t get there. And you have to always be open to having your position challenged and perhaps changing your views. Never get your ego too close to your position because if your position falls you don’t want your ego to go with it.
If you have enjoyed reading this four part series and would like to learn more about raising and managing cash for your startup then check out my self-paced, online class Founder Finance as well as other classes for entrepreneurs.