Preparing and delivering a compelling elevator pitch is an essential tool for any business or start-up, but even a perfect pitch can be ruined by a few simple mistakes. Here, leading Australian entrepreneur, Creel Price, breaks down his tips for perfecting your pitch.
Whether you’re a first-time founder or a seasoned entrepreneur, a solid pitch is an essential part of your business tool kit. But actually creating and delivering a compelling pitch takes preparation and practice.
As a mentor to entrepreneurs, pitch judge and angel investor, I’ve seen my fair share of over-engineered slide-decks and pitches that left me confused and with little understanding of what the business actually did.
Many entrepreneurs are not properly selling themselves or their ideas and potentially losing out big as a result.
Here are the most common pitching mistakes and how to fix them.
Mistake #1: Not being succinct
If you can’t say what you do in one succinct sentence that an average person would understand, then chances are the average angel investor won’t understand either.
When developing your elevator pitch, make sure you hit these three elements:
- Position where your company plays,
- State what product or service your company sells,
- Clearly identify your target market
An example might be: ‘We are a software business, that offers a cloud based accounting service to small business owners.’
You often won’t know how long you have to pitch. While your full elevator pitch should be about 60 seconds long, make sure you’ve also prepared a 5 second and 15 second version that are geared to the information your audience needs to know.
Mistake #2: Not speaking with confidence
You want to inspire others (such as an investor or potential customer) to believe in you, so you need to believe in yourself. Don’t read off your pitch – know your business and tell me about what it is and why it is awesome in a conversational tone.
If you can’t, then your business is not cooked enough to invest in or I don’t get the confidence that you will be able to sell to customers, staff or partners, which will make-up the backbone of your business. Sure, you should rehearse but then rehearse it so it doesn’t sound rehearsed.
Mistake #3: Not speaking frankly
Angel investors usually hear a lot of pitches and have a keen ear for the uninformed use of buzz words.
Use simple language that doesn’t make you look like you are a walking jargon bank or someone whose vision is just a conglomeration of the latest band wagon trends designed to impress.
Mistake #4: Not being authentic
Investors buy the entrepreneur first and the business second. That means to you need to be authentic, passionate and, of course, likeable. You should also nominate why you have an authentic connection to the customer need or problem you are solving – a story is a great way to achieve this.
Mistake #5: Not having an ask
Angel investors usually have a minimum and maximum threshold on how much they would invest. Tell them how much you are looking to raise, including the valuation and/or the type of investor you are seeking and why.
The goal of any good elevator pitch is to open the door to a future conversation or opportunity. Remember to compel, not sell – it’s too early in the process to try and close. If the person is still engaged and interested, you’ll have time to share more and motivate them to volunteer a follow up meeting, pitch or referral.