Say you’ve landed on a great idea. You know it’s going to be the next big thing. Now, how are you going to convince the rest of the world? This is where the *fun*draising part comes in. To raise money, though, you first need to spark interest with investors. There are two key ingredients in your recipe for success here: your pitch deck and your delivery.
Your pitch deck acts as your source material for the story you want to tell. It’s composed of stunning visuals, bold copy, and a clear storyline. But static slides aren’t enough; driving your message home also depends on the right delivery. There’s no fixed formula for a great pitch — but even the most compelling story needs an authentic voice to bring it to life.
This article will walk you through nine actionable steps to perfecting your pitch and bringing investors on board. You’ll learn to elevate your pitching skills to complement your slide deck and secure the signatures needed to grow your business.
1. Develop a simple script and communicate it clearly
Every effective pitch starts with a convincing story. But smoothing out a complex tangle of facts and figures into an impactful narrative is an art. To develop a tight script where every line and word counts, you first need to have a clear, overarching message that you then break down into the right structure.
Reflecting deeply on your business and vision can help you develop a coherent narrative. And transforming the story behind your business idea into slides will help you clarify your message.
There’s a secret to adding an effective voiceover to your slide deck: Keep your language accessible. Imagine you’re explaining your business to a 5-year-old, and go from there. Using everyday words will create a natural flow and help your audience quickly grasp intricate ideas.
2. Establish your voice
Your product or service is unique, and your business model is robust — but so is everyone else’s. Your potential investors want to get to know the team behind the product. In fact, investors often say they invest in people, not ideas. To differentiate yourself from the pack, you need to establish your voice.
Every entrepreneur is different, so your personal fundraising success will depend on your own authentic delivery. Presenting in front of a potential investor is your opportunity to show them what type of person you are.
It’s important to convey your passion and show why you’re uniquely positioned to build this business. If you can make your audience like and trust you, chances are they’ll like and trust your idea too — which we’ll look at more next.
3. Prepare for your audience
This step is all about figuring out who you’re pitching to. You’ll likely be presenting to different investor groups, and the specific makeup of each should directly influence how you prepare and deliver your message.
Familiarizing yourself with your audience yields useful data so you never feel like you’re fumbling in the dark. Your core ideas won’t change, but how you share them will. For example, is the group you’re presenting to big or small? Audience size can determine how personal you get and how much you involve investors in your presentation.
Now consider your audience on the individual level. What are their roles? Do they have any known triggers or special interests? Learn more about your audience’s priorities and needs, try to address their pain points, and anticipate their questions.
To tell a consistent story that’s tailored to your audience, follow the 80/20 rule for standardization and customization. Use your core pitch deck as an anchor. Then make small personalization adjustments — like adding a relevant slide from the appendix or choosing a GIF that a particular investor might appreciate.
4. Tailor your pitch to your presentation format
Now that you know who you’re pitching to, it’s time to think about logistics — the how. The best presentations are tailored to their contexts. Presenting over a video call on Zoom, for instance, has different requirements from an in-person pitch. So first decide on a format that’ll enable you to present your team and product in the best light. And then figure out how to take advantage of the format you choose.
For in-person presentations, make sure you can be heard by everyone in the room. Consider getting a clicker with a laser pointer so you can focus your audience’s attention, and try to hold eye contact with your audience as you speak.
For video pitches, your presentation setup is key. Having a clean environment and technical equipment like a light ring will make you seem more professional. Familiarize yourself with shortcuts so you can seamlessly navigate through slides, and focus your gaze on the camera to have more presence on the virtual stage.
Ultimately, the format you choose is determined by how you want to come across to your audience.
5. Practice your delivery
When people get nervous, they tend to get clammy and speak quickly. But there’s a simple technique you can use to avoid the cold sweats and mile-a-minute delivery, and it’s called practice.
Many of the most natural-sounding presentations required lots of practice. That off-the-cuff TED Talk? Its breezy nonchalance is likely the product of hours of preparation.
A great way to practice slide voiceover is through the recordings feature in Pitch. You don’t need (or want) to memorize everything — again, the goal is to sound authentic, not robotic. Knowing your material inside and out will give you the confidence and freedom to ad-lib if the occasion presents itself.
Here are a few other tips that’ll help you deliver the perfect pitch:
- Present your slides without looking at them
- Time your delivery to stay within the limit
- Speak in front of people and maintain eye contact
- Slow down your speech and include pauses
- Pronounce your words clearly
As you practice, keep updating your slides and script. You may find that you need to cut sections or shuffle slides around to create the most compelling delivery.
6. Involve your team
Constructive feedback is a gift — and your team is there to give it to you. Ask your colleagues to watch your pitch rehearsals and live delivery. They can share tips for improvement or point out unconscious habits that may be distracting your audience.
People who join your pitch meetings can also support the preparation process and ensure your presentation goes smoothly. You might be the one delivering the elevator pitch for your company, but everyone you involve becomes a part of the process.
To work more effectively together, you can use Pitch to collaborate on your deck in real time. You can easily share presentations and invite specific collaborators. To track progress, you can set a status or specific assignee for each slide.
Or, you can workshop the deck together with live video collaboration. In the past, founders had to send static slide decks around for team members to check and update, creating a version control nightmare. Speeding up the deck building and iterating process helps you start fundraising that much sooner.
7. Draft a presentation game plan
Whether you’re an experienced speaker or a total newbie at pitching, one thing’s for certain: You’re not immune to the pre-presentation jitters. The only surefire way to address those nerves is through practice and meticulous preparation. A successful pitch is the result of careful planning — before, during, and after the event itself.
To build rapport and anticipation, touch base with VCs or send them your pitch deck or business plan ahead of your presentation.
A few hours before you go live, aim to be presentation-ready. This will give you time to collect your thoughts, hydrate, and have that last bathroom run. By the time you finally face your audience, all you’ll need to do is activate your muscle memory to summon your pitch.
When it comes to your actual delivery, there’s no such thing as being overprepared. As you step into the spotlight, you’ll feel confident if you know you’re simply executing your well oiled game plan — not scrambling to make last-minute adjustments.
8. Deliver with confidence
You’ve put in the hard work, and you’ve done all the preparation. If you believe in your idea, you now need to wholeheartedly convey that assurance to your potential investors.
To project confidence and maximize your chances of getting investor buy-in, practice answering the tough questions, over and over. This will help you hone your responses, be better prepared to face new questions, and stay cool and collected in the heat of the moment.
Even if you know your pitch inside out, it can't hurt to have some extra support on hand. With Pitch, you can use speaker view to stay organized and feel more in control. You see your speaker notes, time management tools, and all your slides, while your audience sees a polished, full-screen version of your deck.
Finally, start conversations early. Getting to know your audience, involving your team, and recruiting mentors will set you up for success. The more feedback you can get early on, the better prepared you’ll be — and the more confident you’ll feel during your pitch.
9. Iterate with data
A good business pitch isn’t over until the paperwork is signed — it requires effective, tailored follow-up. You don’t necessarily need to make any changes to your slides after the meeting. But you can record a polished version of your pitch so investors can review it async.
You can also save a separate version for every investor you present to, and share that presentation with a custom link. Through these personalized sharing links, you can track when investors view your deck, and invite them to leave comments on individual slides to continue the conversation.
Take your fundraising pitch from good to great
An impressive pitch deck doesn’t come together overnight. The success of your presentation relies on preparation and practice.
Knowing your target audience and making micro-adjustments to answer questions and counter biases they may have is key — as is delivering your presentation in a way that’s authentic to you, your company, and your product.
Remember that creating a great pitch isn’t a solitary task. Developing and delivering impactful material takes a village, both in the preparation phase and during the live presentation. Tap into the talent around you to highlight the latest data, ensure your visuals stand out, make your copy sparkle, get feedback on your delivery, and, ultimately, impress investors.
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