Pitching: Developing your Pitch

You have a pitch coming up. You’ve identified what kind of pitch you’re delivering, and who you’re pitching to (maybe you followed the tips in our previous Pitching Your Startup blog post!). Great work. It’s time to start building your pitch.

If you’ve ever attended a pitching event (like the ones we run at ICUBE, check the Events tab to see what’s coming up!), you might feel like some entrepreneurs just have the ‘gift’ to pitch effortlessly. However, it’s important to remember that behind every successful pitch is knowledge on what makes an effective presentation and lots of practice. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to develop the best possible pitch for your startup!

Know your story and what makes you special.

As unique as your business idea may seem, it is always possible that your audience has heard of similar products before. You need to recognize what sets your business apart from the competition, and a lot of the time, this comes from your story.

For example, you could recount a real-world example of the events that led you to come up with your product—what pain point did you experience, and how did you come up with a solution through your startup? Your story adds a human element to your pitch: it’s the narrative that transforms your pitch from a business presentation into a memorable and persuasive experience.

Also, to make sure your pitch truly captures what makes you special, take a step back and examine it line-by-line. Remember, buzzwords and sentences like “we’re going to disrupt X industry” are very common. Has the line been said before, and is it likely that an investor has heard it before? If so, replace it with something new and innovative. Be unique from your opening sentence all the way to your conclusion.

Provide concrete details.

Telling an engaging story is important, but it can’t come at the expense of the details of your presentation. If you have the time to get more specific, you must. According to Harvard Business School’s Launching Tech Ventures, a pitch should include the following details:

  • Information about the founders of your startup and the team you’re working with.
  • A concisely defined value proposition.
  • The problem, how you plan to solve it, and why your solution is better than existing ones.
  • The size of the market and a go-to-market plan.
  • A competitive analysis.
  • Your business model and financial projections.
  • The ask: How much funding you need and what milestones you will use it for.

As an entrepreneur, backing up your storytelling with concrete details is the key to making a pitch that is both captivating and informative!

Develop a great pitch deck.

A great pitch deck is a vital tool for any entrepreneur seeking to attract investors, partners, or clients. Your pitch deck should be clear, concise, and engaging; this means having enough words to summarize your message, but not so much information that the audience gets caught up reading the slides instead of focusing on the main event: you!

A good model for a powerpoint presentation is the 10/20/30 Rule proposed by Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist at Canva. The rule is simple:

  • A pitch deck should have no more than 10 main slides. According to Kawasaki, people struggle to pay attention to more than 10 concepts.
  • The pitch should last no longer than 20 minutes. Still, keep in mind that a 20-minute pitch is an exception, not the norm; many competitions will ask you to pitch in as little as five minutes!
  • The slide deck should contain no font smaller than 30 points. If you need to use a smaller font, there’s too much text on your slide.

Remember that the 10/20/30 rule is just a model: you don’t need to follow it point-for-point, but remember its main concepts. Have a condensed number of relevant slides, keep your pitch time-bound, and keep the deck visually appealing with minimal clutter.

Practice and revise!

This should go without saying, but the first time you deliver your pitch to your audience should not be the first time it’s presented. Practice in front of the mirror. Write out several different versions of your pitch, and present them in front of friends and family. Speak to anyone who will listen to you.

Throughout this process, you need honest feedback: the strengths and weaknesses of your delivery, the parts of the pitch that were unclear, and more. One method is to wait several days before asking your listeners what they remember from your pitch—if they can’t remember anything, it’s possible that you need to rethink your pitch design.

Finally, record yourself speaking on a camera as if you were actually giving the presentation. You may notice problems that your audience didn’t, like your use of filler words, your body language, or subconscious habits when you’re nervous. Work on remedying these problems while continuing to practice.

Congratulations, you’re finished developing your pitch! Now, all that’s left is to present it to your audience. You should consider presenting at one of ICUBE’s pitch competitions, too! Good luck!

For more information on upcoming opportunities to prep or present your pitch, visit https://icubeutm.ca/events/!






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