By Fergus Cleaver
How’s your investor pitch coming along?
Whether you’re working on a 10-minute pitch to end all 10-minute pitches, or simply trying to identify the core values that set your nascent company apart from the myriad competitors that you’re surely competing against for funding dollars, you need your pitch to be polish-perfect.
Easier said than done. Business experts have written whole books—libraries, actually—about crafting the perfect pitch, but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to the discipline. Just as every company is different, every investor pitch has its own look and feel.
Even if no one can tell you how to put together the perfect pitch, there are some simple hacks that can improve unruly presentations and give investors compelling reasons (hopefully many) to part with their money. To start, try these five:
1. Get Right to the Point
Newsflash: Venture capitalists and private equity types are busy. Really busy. Like, an hour behind when they walk in at 6 a.m. busy.
And their time is valuable. Really valuable. Like, thousands of dollars an hour valuable.
All this is to say, pitching is no time to play footsie. Your pitch needs to get to the point and stick to the point, no matter how abrupt it feels to do so. Ideally, you should answer the who-what-where-why-how within a minute of opening your deck.
2. Wrap Your Pitch in a Personal Story
Nothing sells like a personal story. Your business idea surely has a compelling backstory, which you can further amplify and embellish without being dishonest or even stretching the truth. (Investors do their due diligence. If your story doesn’t check out, it’s curtains.)
A compelling, personalized hook makes investors care about your pitch in a way that all the numbers and projections in the world can’t. So, even if you don’t like talking about yourself, swallow your modesty and go for the gut.
3. Know the Competition
Quick, name your top five competitors.
You’ve got ’em, even if you can’t name ’em. Before you walk into the conference room or step up on stage, you need to show that you know more about the competition than they know about you. Investors love founders who do their homework.
4. Go Visual
It’s 2016. You’d think we wouldn’t need to go over the Golden Rule of Presentations—don’t cram text. And yet, here we are.
And here it is again: Do. Not. Cram. Your. Presentation. Full. Of. Text. Your investors’ eyes will cross, their attention will wander, and your pitch will be over before you knew what hit you.
Instead, go visual: bright colors, different font sizes, eye-catching pictures, even a dash of visual humor. Anything to keep your investors’ eyes on you, where they belong.
5. Show How You’ll Make Money (And Who’ll Help You Make It)
Oh, you’re getting into business to make money? What a novel idea.
If your personal story makes your investors put down their phones and pay attention, the part about making money needs to pull them to the edge of their seats. Spare no detail in outlining your path to profitability, how much you expect to earn, and the team members responsible for drumming up new business.