Category: Funding Pitch

“The best speakers know enough to be scared… the only difference between the pros and the novices is that the pros have trained the butterflies to fly in formation.” – Edward R. Murrow

…and the only way to train the butterflies is to practice, a lot!

One thing I’ve learned about great jazz improvisors is that even though they are playing “in the moment” and it sounds like they are creating their music spontaneously, it only comes after many, many hours of practice where you develop your ear and your toolbox of technique.

Great pitches rarely happen in the moment.  The second time you give your pitch is better than the first.  So on for the tenth and the twentieth time.

Find opportunities to practice for others.  The more you do that, the more like you are to knock them out when it really counts!

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

Advertisements

“Good performance is about what you take in, not what you put out.” – Livingston Taylor

Two things are relevant to this quote:

First, customer discovery – Talking to customers about their problems is about listening, not talking.  It’s tempting to share your bright idea for a new product but as soon as you do, you change the conversation and you won’t get all the information you need.

The other thing is pitching.  If you are raising money, you will pitch at least a couple dozen times.  It’s easy to memorize the slides and give the same speech every time.  But you need to be aware of how your audience responds to each point you make.  Did they laugh at the opening joke or not?  Are you getting head nods when you describe your technology?  Do they ask questions about the business model?  If you are not getting a reaction, then you need to work on the slides or the narrative or the delivery…or all three

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Nothing looks better on a human being than self acceptance.” – Livingston Taylor

People can tell when someone is talking about their job and when they are talking about their life.  This is the challenge of acting; to convince the audience that you really are the person in the story.  Another saying is you can’t sing the blues unless you’ve felt some pain.  It all goes to authenticity.

For entrepreneurs, pitching the company is an ongoing activity.  You are always selling your company to investors, to customers, to partners, to advisors.  All these people can tell if it’s your job or your life.  Don’t be afraid to let your passion show.  It reveals authenticity which is a better story to listen to than hearing a story of someone else from a script.

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“A performance is a conversation between you and an audience.” – Livingston Taylor

Pitching your company is a performance.  Singing a song in front of an audience is a performance.  The experience is completely different but the mechanics are exactly the same.  You are sharing a story with a group of people you hope will respond in your favor.

Make it personal and conversational.  Engage them where they want to be.  Make it important to them.

Read “Stage Performance” by Livingston Taylor

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Trust me, no one will ever complain if you delete a few PowerPoint slides from your presentation and tell a story instead.” – Annette Simmons

Somewhere along the way, PowerPoint got declared the standard in business communication.  It a powerful tool but it is still a pretty small box.  PowerPoint dictates how you tell your story if you let it.  Boring templates with bulleted text in one or two columns and colorful bar charts.  Then, to snazzy it up, you can add noises and swoops and checkerboard fade ins.

Somewhere, your listener indicates they are no longer listening.

But if there is a compelling story, one that they will personally relate to; one they have not heard before, one you are passionate in the sharing… that is memorable.  If nothing else, they will remember you.

Put your pitch together without slides.  Then decide if a handful of slides would help the message.

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Talk very fast, hope something good happens, take the credit” – Dr. Who

For many, this sums up the art of the pitch.  But remember, Dr. Who has a world class group of writers behind the scenes and his witty phrases are the result of many takes and rehearsals.  Plus, he’s a pro.

Getting a great pitch together requires time, preparation, help and practice.  If you do the hard work behind the scenes, you’ll look great, sound great and pull it off with confidence and flair.

 

Blogging Gazelle is published deadly by Shawn Carson

“‘Me, Me, Me’ equals ‘Less, Less, Less'” – Fred Hess

In pitching as well as marketing, the message has to be oriented to the audience and to what they are interested in hearing about.  We have all seen Rock Star CEO’s whose companies are an extension of their personalities and while that could be good during that CEO’s tenure, even for those large companies, it is not sustainable over the long run.

In fact, in Jim Collin’s book “Good To Great”, he develops his idea of Level 5 Leadership  in which the CEO channels her identity and ego into the success of the company.  This is proven by the fact that the CEO’s of several of the Great companies are people we have never heard of before.

For startups, this is ever more important.  The experience of the team is supreme but not for the hype of the personalities. It’s more for the experience of navigating through the minefield that every startup faces.

Which takes us back to messaging.  Your pitch has to be about communicating the value you provide to a large and growing market and how you can provide a return to your investors.  You marketing message has to be about communicating that value to your customer.

 

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Flattery is telling the other person precisely what he thinks of himself. ” – Dale Carnegie

The key to a successful conversation is to get the other person to reveal enough about themselves so you can tell them an interesting story.  The key to telling a good story is to engage your audience in away that relates to their experience.

Know thy audience!

Don’t give a technical presentation to a group of investors.  They are interested in markets, value propositions, and how they can make money.  They don’t care as much about the engineering.  You would’t want to give a funding pitch to a group of customers.  They are interested in solving their problems, not how big the market is.

When you are at a networking event and meet someone new, the first thing out of your mouth should be, “tell me about what you do.”  Then your elevator pitch can be instantly customized to what your one-person audience really wants to hear.

Entrepreneurial Flattery!

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

 

“We’re all naked underneath” – Dr. Who

This quote found it’s way into three conversations last week.  Each time the person was anxiously anticipating a meeting with someone of influence and power.

Despite all the egos, positions, wealth and cultural trappings that serve to distinguish ourselves from each other, people are still people.  Unless you’re a jerk, there is no reason to be anyone else but yourself (although there is research to support that jerks are generally unaware they are jerks so the principle still applies).

During times you are the focus of attention; the board meeting presentation, the performance observation, the funding pitch, the oral book report – these are really opportunities for you to continue the narrative of your life.  That is, you get to tell another part of your story.  Make sure the story is yours and not someone else’s you invent.

And give yourself a break.  The outcome may not go your way for a slew of reasons which you have no control.  Stress will only keep you from being you.

 

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson