That’s Intriguing #77: How Can I Design a To-The-Point Pitch That Wins Buy-In?

“When someone’s impatient and says, ‘I haven’t got all day,’ I always wonder, ‘How can that be? How can you not have all day?'” – comedian George Carlin

George had it right the first time.

We DON’T have all day to convince people we’re worth listening to.

Busy decision-makers make up their minds in minutes whether we’re a good investment of their time and mind.

That’s why it’s up to you to distill your pitch down to 10 slides.

Yes, I said 10 slides.

If you roll out a 30, 40, or 50+ power point slide deck (don’t laugh, I’ve seen them and, unfortunately, sat through some) … investors are already rolling their eyes and getting out their smart phones.

You do not want to add to the epidemic of INFO-BESITY

I’ve had the privilege of working with hundreds of entrepreneurs on their pitches .. and we always distill their pitch into a crisp, convincing 10 slide, 10 minute format that thrills potential investors because it concisely and compellingly addresses what they need to know to make a decision.

Here are just a few of the criteria I use when designing a to-the-point pitch that will win buy-in to my client’s idea, venture, product launch or start-up. Hope you find them useful.

1. Anticipate and Address Objections:

Investors can be “Doubting Thomas’s.” Ask yourself, “Why would they say no?” and then say it early on. If you don’t address their objections in the beginning, they won’t be listening; they’ll be waiting for you to stop talking so they can tell you why your idea won’t work. Neutralize resistance by naming it . . . first.

2. Title Each Slide with the Main Point and Turn Some Titles into Questions

Don’t force investors to try to figure out the most important take-away. They can’t give you their undivided attention if they’re distracted or confused by an unclear slide. Ask yourself, “What’s the primary point of this slide – what do I want them to remember?” and then feature it on top so everyone gets the point.

Posing questions with your title and then answering it with your content turns your pitch into a two-way dialogue instead of a one-way monologue. Voicing what the group is thinking and articulating what’s on their mind – and then responding to that turns your pitch into an conversation vs. a lecture.

3. State the Problem(s) Your Business Solves:

Exactly how does your business solve an existing problem of your target audience in a unique or more efficient, profitable way? Reference a respected publication (WSJ? IBD?) that reveals a dramatic statistic, a recent study result, or a survey that attests to the size/scope of the problem or need you’re addressing. Specify how your solution is better than the competition or is addressing this problem in a revolutionary, first-of-its-kind way. What metrics can you provide that prove the urgency of this issue or the rapid growth of this demographic?

4. Show Them the Money:

Want investors to give you millions? Show exactly how and where you’ve managed and made millions before. Where exactly have you produced impressive monetary results commensurate with what you’re asking? Prove you’re not a risk with a tangible bottom-line track record of successful launches, exits, sales, profits, savings, payoffs. Don’t wait until the last slide to introduce this; put it up front as the primary question in an investor’s mind is, “Have you generated/managed big money before? Can you be trusted to do it again and make money for us? How?”

5. No TMI. 10 slides TOPS.

People shut down when there’s too many slides and a speaker races to “get them all in.” When people are overwhelmed; they become immobilized. They will not say yes or want to know more if they’re flooded with a fire-hose of facts. Discipline yourself to make 10 clean points. vs. 20 confusing ones.

6. Remember, slides are visual “aids.” Keep ‘em clean and visually appealing.

In a 10 minute pitch, fancy animation or complex graphics can be over-kill. YOU are the show – not your slides. Please, no lengthy documents in tiny print. Distill crucial info into 3-4 bullets max. Make copy easy to “eyeball” with a minimum of 24 point font. Instead of bells and whistles; use a consistent theme with dark text on a light background to produce an easy-to-read, professional-looking presentation.

Elmore Leonard said, “I try to leave out the parts people skip.” Have a max of 25 words per slide. Distill each point into its essence – you can always elaborate when you’re speaking. Numbering points instead of bulleting them can make them easier to follow and more factual.

7. Make Your Slides Right and Left Brain:

Include some human faces along with your graphics and grids to SHOW what you do, not just talk about it. Balance statistics with a real-life success story to “people” your pitch so it’s not neck-up, wah-wah rhetoric. Remember, investors make decisions on emotion and logic. Have a blend of photos of real-live people and back up your claims with empirical data so decision-makers like you and respect you.

8. Put Names and Numbers in Your Claims:

Instead of making vague generalizations (e.g., “team has extensive experience in bio-med” What’s that mean?), say, “For example . . . “ and then provide the names and logos of companies you’ve worked with; the millions of dollars you’ve generated; the number of months it took for a product launch; the hundreds of people you’ve managed. Metrics are trusted. Sweeping claims without specific, real-world evidence are suspect.

9. Give Three Action Options in Closing Slide:

Do you know how most people end their pitch? “Thank you for listening.” Arggh. Talk about leaving money on the table. Don’t close passively by trailing off and expecting the audience to read your mind. Close proactively by asking yourself, “What do I want them to do? Call next week to set up a more in-depth, in-person meeting? Connect with you at your exhibit table at the 2:45 pm afternoon break? Request a free sample or product demonstration? SAY THAT. Be explicit by offering three incentive options that would motivate them to follow-up.

Please note: preparing a pitch is a front-loaded project.

Yes, it takes time (and maybe some consulting money) to “do it right” … however it will pay off.

How much money are you asking for? Half a million? $2 million?

If you want to turn your dream into a funded, successful reality; take the time and invest the money to design a 10 slide pitch that has your decision-makers at hello.

  • http://www.carolmccormick.net Carol McCormick

    Your insights Sam are an “out of the ball park hit.” I look forward to using them as I pitch my storytelling curriculum “Change the Culture that Allows Bullying: Working with Kids Ages 2 to 8.”

  • http://www.samhorn.com Sam Horn

    Thanks Carol – it always makes my day when people take the time to let me know they find the ideas in my blogs helpful.

    Good luck with that pitch!

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