8 Golden Rules of Pitching Investors
You only get one chance to impress an investor, make sure you knock it out of the park.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Pitching is a critical skill, and one that is rarely taught. Whether you're pitching investors, pitching your boss or pitching a potential partner, without a sharp and considered pitch, you'll be tossed aside. And the stakes couldn't be higher. While the goal of these meetings is often at odds (you're trying to prove your worth billions, while an investor is often trying to show you're worth much less), the focus should be on establishing mutual respect, to help pave the way for a solid, powerful and mutually beneficial alliance. Here are the eight golden rules of pitching.
1. Don't Be Cocky
It's an obvious point to make, but walking in like you run the show is an instant turn off to investors. There's a fine line between cocky and confidence, and you must learn to strike the right balance. Be clear, assertive and forthcoming, but draw the line at being boastful of brash. Investors invest in much in people as they do in ideas. Acknowledge that you are grateful for their time, and plan to use your time together wisely.
2. Don't Be Needy
Know your worth, know what makes you and your idea different and speak with a calm authority. If you come in on your backfoot, investors will pick up on it, and automatically you will be discredited.
3. Acknowledge What You Don't Know
Having knowledge gaps is OK. Assuming you know everything and have all the answers, is not. Being smart about what you don't know shows that you are grounded, pragmatic and don't harbor unrealistic expectations.
4. Be Human
Investing is a people business. It's vital to show that you are a real person, beyond the pitch deck. Try to bypass the small talk and find an opportunity to make a genuine connection. This involves doing your homework. Find out the passions and interests of the people you're meeting and find a way to work the topic into your early conversation.
5. Show Your Passion & Tenacity
Entrepreneurship is a long game. Passion and tenacity will get you through when the inevitable slumps and lulls arise. If your product moves you, show it. And if you can find an opportunity to talk about times that you've had to be tenacious, seize it! It could be your sporting prowess, endurance from an old job or how you triumphed in adverse conditions.
6. Look Sharp
Looking the part helps. If you look disheveled, scruffy and unkempt, it not only detracts from your pitch, it makes it harder to believe that you know how to run a company and manage others.
7. Interview Them
Yes, you are the one in the hot seat, but don't forget that you should be doing some interviewing too. Taking investment is a serious commitment, and you shouldn't just take whatever is handed to you. Ask smart questions to get a sense of who the firm really are, what they can bring to your business and what they are like to work with.
8. Paint A Picture of The Future You See
Don't just rattle off numbers, tell a story about what you are trying to achieve. The most effective way to do this is to paint a vision of what you are setting out to change in the world. Flesh out what the old world looks like, and then contrast it with what the new world looks like, once you've shaken it up. Numbers, of course, are critical, but they will only get heads nodding, not hearts pumping.