Pitching has become a popular theme in bootcamps, seminars, and workshops.
Everyone has advice to offer – mostly on how to do better slides, what size fonts to use, how many slides, how many minutes, how to use graphics, how to hook your audience, how to project your voice into the room, and more, and more, and more …
The ability to be a good story teller is important, and entrepreneurs do need to perfect their skills in pitch delivery.
However, there is an aspect of telling a good story that precedes great delivery: HAVING A GREAT STORY TO TELL.
Matt Cain, #18, pitcher for the SF Giants
When it comes to the story, the company and product names change, but otherwise it’s the same old song. “We are going to change the world”, “we will grow from 0 to $100 M in the next 5 years”, “we are talking about a multi-billion market”, “invest in our world class team, and you will get fabulously rich(er).”
Amazingly, while much is offered to improve pitch DELIVERY, there is little focus on the quality of the story; even though entrepreneurs need both legs to stand on to raise money.
So what is wrong with “the story”, and how can entrepreneurs improve it? The BIGGEST shortcoming of most pitches is they are written with too much enthusiasm by hopeless optimists who have drunk too much of their own Kool-Aid (= believe their own B.S.); That can’t be fixed by font changes or better graphics. If you really want to improve your pitch, your initial focus should be on having a better story to tell. That means getting some reality behind your claims.
Once you have real evidence for your plan – yes, by all means – do the fonts, the graphics, and the pitch practice, and learn to become a great story teller!
So here is a simple three-step exercise that will put you on the road to having a better story to tell:
1) Go through your current pitch deck. Highlight each claim or “hypothesis” in your presentation. For each highlight, ask yourself, is this something we KNOW (= have proof for), or is this something we “think”?
2) If it is something you know, add some notes to your slide deck on HOW you know. How did you validate the hypothesis and when. What kind of proof do you have? Maybe create a background slide at the back of the deck with the evidence that you can pull out when appropriate.
3) If it is something you think, add some notes to your presentation on when and how you are going to test that hypothesis. For any unvalidated assumption in your pitch you should at least be aware it needs testing and have a plan to do so in the near future.
These three simple steps will help you get a firm foundation under your pitch and – guaranteed! – differentiate you from most of the entrepreneurs out there. You will not only amaze your audience, you will improve your odds of success by an order of magnitude.
Put your pitch through this “reality filter” and let us know how it goes!
By Silicon Vikings blogger Jeff Snider.