Pitching for startups: how to prepare and deliver a winning deck
Tips and tricks from a pitching coach on content, design and delivery of your next winning deck.
If you’re in the game of finding funds, whether for brilliant startups or stable products, you know that there is no surefire way of getting your idea across to investors. But mostly, what you need is a compelling pitch. Pitching may sound scary, but it can be a fun and empowering experience if you prepare and deliver it correctly. We talked with stellar pitching coach Bianca Praetoruis who shared expert tips on shaping your message, crafting an ideal deck and pitching it through. Check out her advice and rock your pitch!
Research prospective investors
Do some decent research before you start drafting a pitch. You are to know who your investors are, their investment history, and the stages of development they support. After carefully profiling your investor-to-be, try to establish initial contact.
Look at the startups in your market landscape that you can partner with and piggyback on each other's growth. Find out who invested in them. Write them a warm introductory email. — Bianca Praetorius, Pitch Coach
Create a source pitch
You don’t expect the first investor you’ve turned to will fund you all at once, do you? To save time creating a personalized pitch from scratch for each new contact, draft a master presentation that you can customize later. It’s much easier to adapt a pre-structured template or outline and then throw in supporting data on a case-by-case basis.
In Readymag you can easily make a copy of your source deck and tweak it to perfection in a few minutes, give it a separate title, add unique properties, and even map a domain name.
Adapt data to your startup’s stage of development
If you’re going through an early stage, pre-seed or Series A, consider adding more personal stories. Focus on the needs of your customers, summarizing your company’s global mission and the drive you share with your team.
And if you’re lucky enough to make it to the later stages, it’s time to place emphasis on growth. Skip concepts and brand descriptions and opt for key metrics and traction, as well as plans for the upcoming year and past outcomes.
Adapt your pitch however you can. Why pitch to a client and talk about your market or business model? Why would influencers want to know about your investment needs? Think about what is relevant to the people in front of you and say no more than necessary. If you’re just starting, focus on the problem/solution, your team and any early signs of traction. If you’re at a later stage, focus on revenue, your sales pipeline, the market status quo and growth. — Bianca Praetorius, Pitch Coach
While drafting a presentation, come up with a memorable and compelling story to use while pitching. Show what drives you, and prove your passion and involvement. There’s nothing better than to support people who fizz with ideas.
You’re one of countless investment opportunities for the investor you’d like to work with. If you can’t communicate on point and on fire what you’re doing and why it’s big and brilliant—there is a good chance your investor misses out on the opportunity to match with you. — Bianca Praetorius, Pitch Coach
Provide evidence and data
Make sure to include precise information about your company’s current development and prognoses. If you already have traction to show, show it in a few numbers, and don’t forget to highlight any partnerships you may have already signed. Make sure you have documented evidence, and never spin numbers out of thin air.
Design your presentation with care
Everyone loves attractive visuals, even business sharks. Make sure your deck looks nice, with high-quality images and videos, interactivity and seamless functionality.
Designing eye candy is a snap with Readymag. To help you out with practical advice, we came up with a comprehensive Guide to Presentation design. It’s free and will get you covered on content, design and tool choices.
Slides that you deliver in person should be visual with hardly any text. If you have to use text, animate it. A pitch is a spoken word act, so the text needs to be on your tongue. But when it comes to a sendable pitch deck, the game is totally different. There are lots of tools for design and visualization. You have exactly zero excuses to deliver ugly slides. — Bianca Praetorius, Pitch Coach
Keep your deck short
15-20 slides are more than enough for any pitch deck. Investors are most interested in crucial facts and will only ask for more details when needed. But if you feel like adding extra details, include them as a follow-up or addendum.
Check the tech
Whether you are going to pitch online or offline, make sure everything in your deck works properly and you are thoroughly familiar with the presenting options you have. Check the sound, connection, screens—every detail matters here.
Practice makes perfect. Try to rehearse your pitch as many times as you need to sound fluent, convincing and passionate.
Refine your delivery. Test your pitch on people from the same ecosystem. Ask them for honest feedback. What would they have thought about it if they weren’t your friend? If you pitch to investors, don’t approach your top picks before testing the waters with other prospects. — Bianca Praetorius, Pitch Coach
Send your pitch before the meeting
Let your potential investors get familiar with the subject before day X. Send your pitch deck a day or two early as a courtesy—it saves time and effort for often overwhelmed business people. This also maximizes the chance they will actually study your deck.
Readymag comes in handy here: you can publish your pitch and protect it with a password. The only thing an investor has to do is enter the right combination. Every Readymag project can also be saved as a PDF.
Public speaking skills aren’t a given, but you can always do your best and try to enter a calm and confident state of mind before pitching. Everyone has their own set of relaxation techniques, but here are some general tips.
Pitching is almost always about building trust in something that doesn’t quite exist yet. It’s about painting the intersection of what could be and what will be. So you are the one painting the picture based on your confidence in its potential. Being the one that stands on the mountain, looking down into the valley where all you can see is fog and uncertainty, you’ll be the one leading the way and conquering that fog. Stepping into the fog and leading the way takes a hell of courage. Do it, despite the sky is far from clear. — Bianca Praetorius, Pitch Coach
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