Every entrepreneur knows how nerve-wracking delivering a pitch to investors can be. Whether you are seeking funding for a startup or an injection of cash to grow your existing business, you want to be sure your message is communicated effectively. That’s why we asked 13 successful entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:
What’s your best tip for practicing your pitch to investors ahead of the big meeting? Why is this important?
1. Research investors and their interests
A cookie-cutter pitch is less work, but it’s also less effective. Find out who you’re pitching to, what they have invested in previously, their personality, and their values. Tailor your pitch to the audience. Keep it honest and authentic, but be strategic about the aspects of your business and plan you choose to emphasize. —Corey Northcutt, Northcutt Enterprise SEO
2. Do mock presentations with family and friends
It is important to do mock presentations with family and friends to work out the kinks and improve your confidence. Encourage your family and friends to ask meaningful questions and not hold back on objections or criticism. Another tip is to continue to learn your product inside and out and know your industry, and that will build confidence in your knowledge around your particular product or service. —Kyle Michaud, Experience Expositions
3. Tell a compelling story
Remember that when you’re pitching to investors, telling a story is the most crucial thing. Having been on both sides of the table as both an entrepreneur and investor, the most memorable (and therefore successful) pitches rely far more on telling a compelling story than they do on spreadsheets, forecasts, and projections. Numbers have their place, but focus on telling a meaningful story first. —Matt Diggity, Diggity Marketing
4. Spend enough time rehearsing
Time is essential. Just spend time on the rehearsal. Anyone who feels they can “wing” it usually can’t, or they have had enough translatable life experience. It all comes down to the amount of time and effort spent on preparation. —James Guldan, Vision Tech Team
5. Record yourself practicing
When pitching to investors, it helps to record yourself practicing, and review it afterward. It helps you gauge your body language, eye contact, and overall delivery of your message so you can change it how you see fit. While practicing in front of someone is helpful, too, I prefer recording myself because I’m my own worst critic and I want to ensure it’s done right. —Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
6. Trim it to the absolute core
Trim, trim, trim. Based on the feedback received from investors during pitches, once you consider your pitch is ready, take at least three additional passes to trim it down to the absolute core product, core vision, and core market. The most effective pitch is one that is brutally concise and targeted in every possible way. —Mahesh Chaddah, Reservations.com
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7. Vary the practice
It is hard to truly know the context of your pitch and, as a result, you need to be prepared for everything. Will you be pitching sitting down, standing up, with PowerPoint, with paper, with no visual aid—who knows? If you vary the practice, you can read the context and still deliver a great pitch no matter what is thrown at you. —Eric Mathews, Start Co.
8. Maintain security and confidence
Trust is an essential element, and transmitting confidence to the people you are addressing is indispensable to guarantee security and generate peace of mind among investors. It is important to prepare yourself and know every aspect of the topic you are developing so that you can have the ability to cover every detail within a meeting. —Kevin Leyes, Leyes Media & Team Leyes, by Leyes Enterprises
9. Use a mirror and a timer
Use a mirror and a timer to rehearse, and also attend an acting lesson—seriously. It is so valuable to have a proper speaking manner, manage your intonation, and be able to communicate the best kinds of nonverbal cues. The truth is that 75% of communication is nonverbal so it’s critical to get those things right so you can have the best message come across. —Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.
10. Don’t memorize your pitch
While practice is essential to appear polished and professional, do not learn verbatim what you plan to say. This will almost always come across as robotic and lack personality. Speak conversationally and understand the talking points you plan to cover. This creates a consistent voice when you jump from your script to answering questions. —Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.
11. Watch online videos with tips and tricks
When you first start practicing your pitch, it helps to watch videos online to get tips and tricks for how to do it right. YouTube has a plethora of res you can use to see how others pitch to investors and what gets them great deals. —Jared Atchison, WPForms
12. Go over the pitch with your mentor
I recommend that you sit down with your mentor and go over your pitch before you present it to investors. Your mentor is going to be able to guide you through and help you prepare for some of the tough questions that are going to come your way. In addition, you’ll be able to practice reading your pitch out loud, which will help you sound more confident during the live presentation. —Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
13. Be prepared for negative questions
If you’ve got time to prepare for the meeting, think about all the negative things that investors could ask and prepare answers for them. They don’t have to be the answers that they are looking for and they don’t have to be 100% right, but if you ready, you’re in for a home run. —Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
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