Your goal for your first pitch is simply to get another pitch or conversation by building interest in your business potential with the audience. These are unfortunately, only some of the common mistakes I have seen in pitching over the years.
Lack of Preparedness
This can take many forms. Here are a few:
- Key missing elements in the slide deck – I saw a pitch with no ask!
- No prior thought to potential investor questions
- No back-up to your pitch (plan, research data, resumes/bios, white papers, prototypes or products, forecast and assumptions, etc.)
- Not practicing first (with an audience willing to give you honest feedback)
Style During the Pitch
Style during the pitch can have major impact on investor receptiveness. Here are five (of many) quick pointers:
- Argumentativeness – Don’t argue with investors or others during your pitch.
- Fictionalizing – If you don’t know an answer, simply state you do not have the answer immediately available and tell the questioner you would like to get back to them with the information. This tactic will also give you and the investor a reason to re-connect after the pitch concludes.
- Presentation issues – Late to the meeting, speaking too fast, skipping around, spending too much time during pitch on small details, fidgeting or nervous body language, poor grammar, spelling or math errors in slides, “boring” slide format for a “tech” company, etc.
- Practice vs. Memorize – Practicing is good, but over-scripting can be disastrous. I have seen too many presenters freeze up or show frustration when they are over-reliant on an exact script.
- Overly busy slides – If your slides are too busy and filled with words and data, the likelihood is investors will stop listening to you as they get caught reading. This can quickly lead to a loss of attention and interest. Use slides that allow you to tell a story; do not simply read your slides to the audience.
A special thank you to Alan Lobock for his input on this article.
Tom Fulcher is the President and founder of The Idea Gardener LLC and has over 25 years of management experience with start-ups, small businesses and Fortune 500 companies. Tom is the Entrepreneur-In-Residence for the Chandler Innovations Incubator and teaches the NACET Pitch Power series