Be prepared! 9 Tips for your winning pitch!
In order to prepare a wining pitch, the following objectives have to be achieved:
- Define a clear structure
- Present the key messages
- Avoid inaccurate content
- Avoid detail overload
- Respect the given time budget
To achieve this we propose to apply the following recommendations:
1. Contact members of the audience in advance – and find out as much as possible about their expectations and knowledge
How do you ensure that the content of the final presentation has the right focus? What are the investor’s expectations? What level of knowledge does the investor have? Should the presentation be more abstract in character or contain specific implementation examples?
Be sure to contact the investor in advance by telephone. Find out:
- What particular topics should the content focus on?
- Who will be attending the final presentation (so that you can be prepared for their knowledge and interests)?
- What time budget is available – for the presentation as well as for the questions?
2. Stick to the three “T”s with regards to the structure of the presentation
Many final presentations have the basic shortcoming that the audience has no idea of what is in store for them.
It can happen that the audience will sit silently in the hope of understanding the purpose of the presentation at a later stage.
Nonetheless: the audience has to understand the objective and the core statements of the presentation.
The solution lies in the three “T”s – and goes like this: First tell to your listeners what you are going to tell to them, then tell it to them, and finally tell them what you have told them! Specifically:
- Tell your listeners what you are going to tell to them: State the objective, the key content (limit it to three core elements if possible – “Top 3 agenda”) and how long your presentation will take.
- Tell it to them: Make sure you keep to the logical structure, and stay on topic.
- Tell them what you have told them: Give a summary with respect to (1) the most important information that you want them to remember and (2) the main benefits of this information.
3. Confine yourself to the core statements in the main section – the details belong in the appendix!
The listeners have only a limited attention span and loose interest very quickly.
Only present the essential core statements in the main section. “Banish” the associated in-depth explanations to the appendix. This structure will have the effect that
- You will allow for the limited attention span of the audience
- The structure (the “thread”) will remain visible
- You will stimulate dialogue through questions and thus your presentation will become livelier
4. Put explanatory and/or questioning headlines on your slides!
Many slides are overloaded with details and therefore make it difficult for the audience to grasp the essential core statements quickly. As a result, the audience loses the thread, lacks concentration and is at risk of “switching off”.
Put a snappy headline on each slide that expresses the content of the statement in the slide in a few words.
One possible alternative is to put a question in the headline that is answered at the bottom of the slide.
5. Use charts and tables, but keep them simple!
Too many verbal explanations on the one hand and charts and diagrams with complex content on the other hand cause the audience to become “overwhelmed” – and to “switch off” as a result.
Most people can memorise “pictures” better, because “a picture speaks a thousand words”! However: Only use or create simple teaching images and easily understandable diagrams – because you must remember: Most of the audience are delving into the topic for the first time!
But what if the audience would like a detailed breakdown? Prepare a second set of slides that communicate the details in clearly legible font – and insert them into the appendix!
6. Prepare the opening intensively!
Remember: “If you miss the first buttonhole, you will get all the buttonholes wrong. The start has to be good.”
If your objective is to make your audience listen to you attentively from the start, you have to arouse their interest from the start!
You can best achieve this if you make your audience understand that listening is really worthwhile! Arouse their curiosity! This is achieved by
- First, introducing the founder with some core statements regarding his curriculum.
- Stating the key content of the subsequent presentation – the “TOP 3 agenda”!
- Stating the key objectives of the business concept.
7. Prepare your close intensively!
How does the saying go? “The first impression is crucial, but the last one sticks.”
How do you ensure that the pitch presentation is as positive as possible?
After the main section of the presentation, a conclusion should follow in the final section. Make sure, that these are the most important messages! Hence, do your best to formulate the messages!
- Brief and precise summary of the key statements.
- Fact-based, described in an emotional way.
- Emphasising the strengths – the unique selling proposition (USP).
8. Be prepared for unpleasant questions!
During presentations it can transpire that you are “taken apart” with questions. This is extremely unpleasant.
During your preparation, specifically take into consideration the most unpleasant questions that you could be asked.
Make sure that the content of the pitch deck refers to those potential questions.
If you believe that some content should not be included in the main section, attach them to the appendix or – if they are too extensive – take along separate documentation!
9. Be sure to do a dry run!
How can you tell that a presentation is poorly prepared? By the following characteristics: unclear goal, inconsistent structure, poor or inadequate visual aids, lack of consideration for audience expectations, overrunning the speaking time, etc.
Therefore: It is imperative that you hold a trial presentation before a small audience. At the end, constructive, well-meaning suggestions for improvement should be exchanged.