Thanks to Silicon Valley’s startup ethos, with an assist from the television show Shark Tank, the business pitch has attained near-vaunted status among entrepreneurs.
Have a great business idea but not sure how to present it? Communication expert Marie Perruchet breaks down the process in One Perfect Pitch: How to Sell Your Idea, Your Product, Your Business – or Yourself.
1. Craft your story
Details make your story authentic. Refer to your “breakthrough moments” – the events in your life that made you who you are. That will give impetus to your product or service. Your passion in telling your story is as important as the story itself. The details you cover should include “conflict, turning points,” “a resolution” and “sensory details.” Make your story particular and definitive. “If you don’t build an emotional connection through a real-life situation, people cannot visualize the problem and will not care about your solution,” Perruchet writes.
2. Tell it in three acts
Act I is the “tell me” phase you use to “set the stage” for your story and pitch. This is where you hook your audience members, seize their attention and create a crucial bond with the investor. Act II is the “show me” or demonstration phase. Let the investor see what your offering does. The demo should “enlighten, educate, entertain, and, most important, sell” to the investor. Act III goes for the sale by explaining how your proposal will make money for its investors. Be sure they understand your business model, the expertise you bring, and how your firm and its backers will make money.
3. Make it memorable
When you wrap up your presentation, don’t leave your audience “in the dark.” Repeat your main premise and create a strong ending that keeps them waiting to hear what you are requesting. Then provide a “sense of closure” with a call for action that tells them exactly what you want, whether you’re requesting another meeting, a connection, money, a position or business plan approval.
4. Develop an elevator pitch
Venture capitalists are busy, easily distracted people with short attention spans. You must gain their attention and interest quickly. Create a one-minute pitch that achieves this goal. To develop a one-minute pitch, compress your information down to the essentials. Don’t expect this to be easy. You may work for months to create a strong one-minute pitch. And you’ll need to create even pithier pitches for other formats. “Your pitch is your brand,” Perruchet writes. “You must be able to communicate it in seconds, in shorter formats and across multimedia platforms.”
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