If you can’t explain it in one sentence and back that up with numbers, it doesn’t matter.
This statement should be the go-to rule when creating pitches. Unfortunately, It’s not.
This is why I’m posting this pitching guide.
I’ve seen too many mediocre designs that use fluff and vanity metrics to prove the value of an idea. I’ve also seen great designs that don’t use numbers nor explain what the idea is.
There are too many self-proclaimed pitch experts that are nothing more than designers who learned a bit of copywriting or copywriters that learned a bit of design.
It’s simple: You need to be a creative strategist to create a winning pitch. You need to understand numbers, the big picture, and how each piece of the big picture relates to each others. Above all, you need to understand WHO is it that you’re pitching to.
A fancy template from SlidesGo or Canva won’t do much good if the content within is just a sequence of unrelated messages created to serve the purpose of the slide rather than the overall picture.
In this pitching guide, I’m sharing my personal approach to creating pitches. An approach that has helped me win $250k worth of pitches, and helped 100+ companies develop decks that are currently helping them raise investments and close deals.
I’m a pitching expert and I can pitch anything. With this guide, you can do that too.
- What Is A Pitch?
- The Origins Of The Phrase “Elevator Pitch”
- Key Elements Of An “Elevator Pitch”
- Why Is A Pitch Important?
- What Makes A Pitch Extraordinary?
- Pitching Guide The Essentials
- 7 Steps To Create A Pitch
- The Two Decks You Need To Have At All Times
- 7 Important Slides To Include
- Types Of Pitches:
- 4 Essential Tips To Take Into Consideration Before Doing The Pitch
- 5 Quintessential Tips To Use During The Pitch
- 2 Areas To Master In Order To Win Every Pitch
- Pitching Guide: Basic Structure Of A Pitch
- 15 Mistakes To Avoid When Pitching
- Not Doing Research
- Crafting Your Pitch Alone
- Relying On Your Slides
- Forgetting To Tell Your Story
- Forgetting To Present Your Team
- Rushing Through the Presentation
- Winging It
- Using Buzzwords And Industry Jargon
- Too Much Humor While Doing The Presentation
- Forgetting About Body Language
- Going Over Every Detail
- Complicating Your Presentation
- Pushing Too Much
- Taking Questions Too Personally
- No Exit Plan
- 9 Tips For A Great Pitch
- Tell A Story And Engage With People Emotionally
- Limit Each Slide To Expressing One Idea
- Prepare To Make A Great First Impression
- Show The People Behind Your Idea
- Keep A Consistent Look In The Presentation
- Know Your Metrics Better Than Anyone
- Get To The Point Fast
- Establish The Need And Use A Message Map
- Know Your Next Step
- 6 Things To Avoid When Pitching
- 3 Famous Pitch Decks
- 6 Legendary Pitchers
- Final Words
What Is A Pitch?
The act of convincing someone to accept your idea is pitching. The word itself has different meanings in different contexts. For example: in music, you will find vocal pitch; baseball—pitching of a ball; in business, a pitch is a short presentation. Because we’re talking about business, throughout this guide I will use the meaning of a pitch as a short presentation.
A pitch is a discipline of its own. This is simply because having a great idea is not good enough if you are not able to sell it. This short presentation is actually convincing others to accept your idea—it can mean pitching your idea for a startup to an incubator, or a short presentation of yourself and your skills to someone important in your field of business.
Nowadays, the most popular term to use for both types of presenting is called an “elevator pitch.”
The Origins Of The Phrase “Elevator Pitch”
The phrase comes from the studio days in Hollywood when a screenwriter would “supposedly” catch an unsuspecting executive on an elevator ride. This means that they would have had 15-30 seconds to present themselves or their idea.
Key Elements Of An “Elevator Pitch”
If you want to have a successful “elevator pitch”, here are a few key points you should know:
- The pitch: A short sentence that exactly explains how your product helps your target customer and what benefit they will get.
- Target market: You have to know your target market and its size.
- Projected earnings: You should know the profits you anticipate from sales of your product or service.
- Current results: What you or your product/service have achieved.
- Personal history: A synopsis of your qualifications and achievements.
Competition and advantage: For you, it is important that you acquire all the information you can about your competitors, highlighting features that make your product or service superior.
Bear in mind that this type of pitch needs to be clear, concise and interesting. Basically, it has to convince the person you present your idea to, to invest in you and your business.
Think about it, if your life depended on how concise, clear and to the point, your pitch would be, how would you go about creating it, structuring it and pitching it?
Why Is A Pitch Important?
For many people, the idea of having a pitch in front of an audience at all is frightening. Yet, you have to have a great pitch in order to succeed in business.
Because of this reason, making a great pitch is a rewarding experience when done correctly. If you want to secure funds for your business, a great pitch will do, and if you seek a leadership position, no matter the area, what you’ll need is amazing pitching skills.
What Makes A Pitch Extraordinary?
Basically, an extraordinary pitch is similar to a business plan—it should be practical and compelling. This means you need to have an in-depth and thorough knowledge of your industry and the idea that you are selling.
This includes knowledge of the particular problem that your idea is solving, your target market, the competition, rival products, anticipated revenues and uniqueness of your idea.
You need a total breakdown of your pitch, meaning, you need to explain each part in as much detail as possible. For example, if you plan to pitch to your investors, your idea should create a feeling with your investor that their money is in safe hands (and will at least double within a certain period of time).
Pitching Guide The Essentials
An extraordinary pitch is crucial for selling your brand. It essentially reflects your strategic plan for your product. Because of this, it should always be fresh and in tandem with the current trends in the market.
Be aware that in most cases, the success of a brand is determined by the effectiveness of the pitch, which makes numerous brands fail because of poor pitching.
Let’s review some of the key ingredients that will make your pitch extraordinary, shall we? The following part of this guide does exactly that.
7 Steps To Create A Pitch
Tell A Real Customer Story
One of the rules of an opening speech is “start with something shocking, or a good story”. So why not use that rule when pitching your idea? It’s best to start your pitch with a shocking fact and a good customer story that addresses the problem you or your product is trying to solve.
Try to use real names and real customer challenges. Keep it simple and realistic. Avoid buzzwords and tech talk. After all, the people will remember the stories that you tell, not the exact words you use.
Make The Pitch Sweet And Short
Try not to deliver your pitch as if you’re acting off your grandparents’ antiques. Relax, and note that with pitching, less is more. Prioritize the most important things you want to share and stick to them.
Take a nice big breath before you speak, it will help you deliver a more compelling and thoughtful pitch.
Shape Your Business Model
Your business strategy tells someone how your idea converts into being something economically valuable. The best way to communicate that is to show a good business strategy.
Make Sure Your Pitch Has A Nice Flow
Keep your presentation short, sweet and to the point. When making your presentation, try not to jump from one subject to another, but connect the dots. The best way to do this is to have a compelling story narrative that will hook your audience.
Talk About Yourself And What Have You Done Lately
It is important to know that investors invest in people first. If people are good, they will invest in an idea. So, don’t be afraid to talk about your and your team’s accomplishments.
They want to hear about your first customers, key media placement, key hires etc. People want to hear stories—give them a story that will make them choose you.
Admit You Have Competition
The biggest mistake people make is saying they don’t have any competition. The truth is—everyone has competition, even if it is indirect. When you talk about your competition, one of the best ways to illustrate that you understand your rivals is to present it in a simple matrix form.
Show Me The Data
Try not to brag about how you’re going to be a $60 billion business in three to five years, because no one is going to believe—unless, of course, you’ve done it before. Show them exactly how you will reach those billions instead.
The Two Decks You Need To Have At All Times
Guy Kawasaki made a great point when he said that the purpose of the initial pitch is to stimulate interest, not to close a deal. A pitch is a presentation, which includes a deck of slides that serve as a presentation aid and background.
It also includes the verbal discussion that usually begins as a planned talk and ends with Q&As.
There are two kinds of slide decks associated with a pitch—the deck intended for the presentation itself and the leave-behind pitch. This part of the guide explains both of them briefly:
That’s the one you read about most often. It’s a classic presentation—almost entirely images, each slide with a title and an image, but very little text.
The images are photographs, business charts, and diagrams. It keeps the focus on the speaker, not the slides. It doesn’t encourage the audience to read the text from the slides.
Last but not least, It doesn’t have bullet points people will read. Looking for a free template? Canva is one of our favorite tools to build them, and you can find tons of ready pitch deck ppt files.
This type of pitch stands alone. It needs to be read, not presented. This is one of those presentations that are rich in content—it has more text and statistics and doesn’t have a lot of videos and images because of its business purposes.
Try not to confuse these two—they are similar but not the same.
7 Important Slides To Include
However, it doesn’t matter if you write a presentation or leave-behind pitch, this is what you ought to do if you want to stimulate interest with your pitch:
- Show a problem to solve, ideally one that investors will understand immediately, and relate to.
- Solution: How is your startup going to solve that problem? What do you do? Ideally, the solution is something investors will also understand and relate to. And there is a good image to show.
- Market potential: How many people/buyers have the problem and how much is the solution worth, is there a new market opportunity?
- Secret sauce: You decide what to highlight here, depending on the audience. Investors and business plan contest judges want to see technology, trade secrets, existing market position, or some other fact that helps you establish barriers to entry and protect your competitive advantage.
- The team: Investors need to see a credible startup team, with previous startup experience and background specifically related to the problem and the opportunity.
- Traction: Show milestones achieved, momentum, traffic, anything you can to make your story—and the opportunity—presentable. Web traffic or downloads are excellent. Success on Kickstarter is also excellent. Early sales and firm commitments from important clients or distributors are also effective.
- All the rest: Flesh it out as needed, depending on your specific case, with highlights investors will look for. Exit strategies, competition, market strategy. Be sure to have projected P&L as a bar chart and have solid projected P&L, Balance, and Cash Flow to back it up.
If you do get to the point where your potential client or investor asks you for the second deck, don’t just go ahead and cram it with data.
Make it in a way where it would be a breeze for the reader to go through it. How? Coat the presentation with storified content—these are words and slides that easily guide the reader through the plethora of information.
Have you heard of the hero’s journey? Essentially, your story is leading the hero through your slides to the end and showing him the promised land (which is you or your product).
Types Of Pitches:
It is known that the word “pitch” has a different meaning depending on the context. However, speaking of business and presenting your idea as such, there are different varieties of pitches and the following ones are amongst the most popular:
The Sales Pitch needs to be the “more conversational type.”
If you want to have a successful sales pitch, you need to provoke a dialog and ask your buyer about what they need.
The next thing you need to do is to create a connection with your buyer. Naturally, the best way to do that is, again—tell them a story.
If they can relate to your brand on a personal level, they will have one more reason to buy from you.
Advertising pitch presentations are something you are in touch with every single day.
Advertising pitch involves PR and marketing agencies. If you have a new brand and would like someone to create a campaign to promote it, you’d go to PR and marketing agencies and brief them on your request. Here’s how to create an advertising pitch.
Then they would come back to you with their ad pitch, which is essentially the creative strategy that the agency would use to execute the campaign.
The main goal of the startup pitch is to attract investors.
This type of pitch needs to be a strong, compelling pitch that will convince investors to back up your startup.
Keep the pitch to the point, tell your startup story and manage your timing well—these are the three key steps you need to take when creating a successful startup pitch deck.
For starters, despite what some of the investors say when they are asking you to send them a pitch deck, they usually mean an investor deck.
You should know that those are two different things—the first one needs to be supported by a presentation, to tell a story and to focus on the problem, whereas the investor deck which can be read by itself, and only presents the problem, talking about your vision in mostly business terms.
The investor deck basically puts to attention the information investors need to make a decision.
Other types of pitches:
4 Essential Tips To Take Into Consideration Before Doing The Pitch
Get To Know Your Audience
Understanding your audience is a must before the pitch.
You need to know what roles the people you are talking to play in the decision to invest in you and your idea. You need to give a pitch that will make them enthusiastic and in order to do that, you need to understand what they want to hear.
Leave An Impression
The most important part of the presentation is you.
Make sure you leave the impression you want—as a grounded and smart individual. Of course, watch your body language; your posture, tone of your voice, hand gestures, strong eye contact and appropriate pauses.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The best way to make a perfect pitch is to practice.
Time how long it takes for you to get your key point across. Stand in front of a mirror and pay attention to your body language. After that, give the presentation to your friends and family and ask them to point out any mistakes they notice.
A common, yet cardinal mistake people make before their pitch is not giving themselves time to relax.
There is no point in being all stressed out—it can only make things worse.
5 Quintessential Tips To Use During The Pitch
If you plant your feet you will look and feel more grounded. Stay in that position for three minutes to calm yourself down, then feel free to move around.
Take It Slow
This is a piece of traditional advice, but it’s even better to pause from time to time.
Catch your breath, think of your next point and move on. Not only does the pause help you recollect your thoughts, but it also exudes confidence—you’ve got time on your hands and you’re in control, there is no rush.
Share The Main Point
Often people forget to share their main point. Don’t forget to pull out fresh information and at the end add a compelling call to action.
Tell Your Story, But Do Not Read
It is best to share three stories with the audience—the first should demonstrate why you care and why the audience should, too. The second story should describe the solution to action. And the last story should exemplify the benefit of implementing your solution.
However, while doing this, remember to have bullet point cards so that you can avoid reading.
Raise Your Voice
When presenting, you need to make sure everyone can hear you. Try to project your voice as if you are talking to the person sitting in the last row. You may think you are loud, but don’t worry—you are not.
One of the things I always ask, after my pitches, is about the message of the pitch. I ask the following 3 questions:
Did I get through?
Was my message well received?
Does the target want to buy my product, or invest in my idea?
The main reason I ask these questions is: analysis is key to improving my next pitch.
2 Areas To Master In Order To Win Every Pitch
Pitching is part of the communication process and this guide wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t show you all the parts of the process.
As you know, communication is made out of two parts—verbal and non-verbal.
The verbal component of communication is only 7%. The other 93% contains the non-verbal element and is made up of body language—55%, and tone of voice—38%. So, if you want to win your pitch, maybe it is time to master all 100%, containing the two key areas—body language and tone of voice.
3 Tips To Help You Master Body Language When Pitching
You need 4–7 seconds to leave an impression. And 30 seconds after that, the judgment will be finalized. The biggest influence on the communication process falls down to body language.
When you first show up in front of people, your appearance sends a certain message—the way you walk, your posture, your facial expressions and even your clothes.
So, what are the things you need to pay attention to in order to master body language?
Being powerful and confident, or at least looking like that, is a must when pitching in front of people who are about to make a decision on the future of your company.
Take a lot of space—do that by taking power poses. Stand up straight with your shoulders back. Include open palm gestures, lean slightly forward and mirror your audience’s posture/gestures.
You’re never fully dressed without a smile. Show people your charisma. Walk in the room with bright eyes and an easy smile, and allow your vibe to consume all the people in the room.
Make Sure Your Verbal And Nonverbal Messages Are Aligned
If your body language doesn’t match your words, your message will be lost. It’s like thinking about one thing, but talking about something else. If you express a concern, be careful not to tell that with a smile—your face needs to show that you are troubled.
If you are proud of the numbers you are presenting—show it. When you tell a joke—smile. Communicate your messages in the right way.
3 Tips To Help You Improve Your Voice When Pitching
Tone Of Voice
What does the tone of your voice communicate? What does it sound like? Does it express confidence? Assurance? Strength maybe? Or fear? How about boredom? Find out what you tell with your voice and practice until you get the desired effect.
Make sure the inflection of your voice emphasizes the things you are speaking and thinking about. Inflection alone can change the meaning of a sentence.
Sound And Energy
Authoritative? Joyful? How do you sound? Use a recorder to hear how you sound and what others hear. Make them feel like they are in the same room with you with the energy of your voice. Watch the speed at which you speak.
Breathe, think about what point you want to make, and use the right energy in the sentence to do that.
Pitching Guide: Basic Structure Of A Pitch
One of the most important parts is structuring your pitch. There are a few things that are extremely important when it comes to the basic structure of a pitch. This part of the guide will explain the structure.
The basic structure of a pitch consists of the following 11 slides:
- Short and sweet.
- What’s your elevator pitch?
- What are you trying to solve?
- The Market
- Know your target market.
- Give the audience a reason why you’re trying to offer a solution.
- What is the problem that the market is currently facing?
- The Solution
- Describe how you are going to solve the problem.
- What makes you and your solution special?
- The Product
- Show examples of how your product works.
- Have a measurable set of customers which serve to prove potential.
- The Team
- Introduce the people behind the project and briefly describe their role.
- Know who is your direct and indirect competition.
- Revenue Model
- Show a schedule on when and how you are going to bring in an income.
- What is your budget?
- How are you going to spend that money?
- Leave your contact details and let people know how to reach you.
15 Mistakes To Avoid When Pitching
Pitches can be tough, especially when you’re presenting to an audience that has seen an enormous number of pitches (it’s just hard to make an impression).
Because your prep-work is the most important part, you need to be careful not to make some of the most common mistakes and this part of the guide shows some of them.
Not Doing Research
Research is the first thing you need to do when doing anything in business. You have to know who you are meeting with and where they place their interest.
The research is also important for the pitch—you need to know exactly what you are talking about when presenting in front of an audience.
Crafting Your Pitch Alone
The worst thing you can do when preparing a good pitch is to not ask for a second opinion. A bit of guidance, encouragement and even love from your close ones can be crucial for delivering the right message.
Relying On Your Slides
Relying on your slides too hard when presenting is not a good idea. People should have an impression that your pitch is unique, not like you’ve fed the same lines to thousands of listeners before.
To achieve this, use slides as supporting visuals, and use yourself and your verbal pitch as the number one weapon to present your idea.
Forgetting To Tell Your Story
You already know that telling a story is one of the key ingredients when pitching. Stories are emotional, and should definitely be a part of your presentation. They will pique interest and prepare the stage for the numbers.
Forgetting To Present Your Team
Investors are eager to know what your team can do. They want to invest their money in people who can pull it off. The best way to do this is to present each person’s strengths and split the presentation up by expertise.
Rushing Through the Presentation
Even if you notice you’re running out of time, try not to rush through the presentation. It is essential for people to really understand your idea.
Don’t rely too much on your notes, index cards, reading your slides or making it up as you go. Failing to practice prior to the pitch shows how little dedicated you are to your idea and business.
Using Buzzwords And Industry Jargon
Keep the pitch genuine using proof points, metrics, and anecdotes that the audience can grasp in a meaningful way. Similarly, steer clear of using too much industry jargon. Speak in layman’s terms so that the audience is actually listening to the description and not trying to figure out what was just said.
Too Much Humor While Doing The Presentation
A sense of humor is great, but using it too much can make things awkward. These people are professionals and they don’t know you too well to get your sense of humor.
Forgetting About Body Language
Some people forget about their body language—don’t be one of them. Body language matters—stand up straight with your shoulders back, smile and show some passion for what you’re doing.
Going Over Every Detail
Too much information will do you no favor. People will get bored and maybe won’t receive the message right. Once you have your message down, make sure your slides are visually appealing so you can keep them interesting.
Complicating Your Presentation
Try not to complicate your presentation or make it too long and full of information. Keep it simple. Remember—less is more.
Pushing Too Much
If the audience feels that they are being force-fed a value proposition to which they can’t relate, their shield will go up and your presentation will be a disaster (don’t be salesy). However, by piquing their curiosity in a less forward way, you could leave them wanting for more.
Taking Questions Too Personally
Try not to be offended or take a persistent line of questions personally. Try not to argue, as well. It is not the point to prove them wrong, yet to educate them on your opportunity and get valuable feedback in return.
No Exit Plan
Investors would like to see an ROI within a reasonable timeframe and you need to show them how it is going to happen.
9 Tips For A Great Pitch
Tell A Story And Engage With People Emotionally
Everyone loves to hear stories, even business people. So, tell an exciting story about your company.
Limit Each Slide To Expressing One Idea
You would like to keep your entire audience on the same page here. Be short and clear in expressing your ideas.
Prepare To Make A Great First Impression
First impressions are powerful. Use the first 2–3 minutes to make your impression, and if you do it well, half of your problems during the pitching are solved.
Show The People Behind Your Idea
Try to focus on each person’s significant and relevant accomplishments on your team. When presenting them, present them as winners.
Keep A Consistent Look In The Presentation
Mixing different fonts does not look good when doing a presentation. Use the same font, size, color, and capitalization format across all slides of your pitch deck.
Know Your Metrics Better Than Anyone
We all know traction speaks louder than words, so know your metrics and present them to your audience.
Get To The Point Fast
It’s a well-known fact that attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Don’t waste time with preambles.
Give the audience an overview of your compelling composition quickly and capture their attention at the beginning of your pitch. Then move to the next point.
Establish The Need And Use A Message Map
One of the questions that go through your listener’s mind is “What problem are you trying to solve?” Therefore, give them a reason to believe that there is a need. State the problem and illustrate the need, then follow up with your solution to address the necessity.
Make this by using a message map—it is a tool to help pitch a complex idea, simply and quickly. All you need to do is to create a Twitter-friendly headline, followed by three key benefits to support the headline. End it with a reinforcement of the three benefits through stories, statistics and examples.
Know Your Next Step
Practice your follow-up steps. People start pitching, right? A negative response catches them off guard and they sometimes get confused.
Come prepared for the next steps. What happens if you get a negative response? What do you want your audience to do? Preparation will help you move forward with confidence.
6 Things To Avoid When Pitching
Don’t Use Too Many Bullet Points
Too many bullet points will kill the presentation. Try to limit the bullets.
Don’t Make It Too Long
Imagine you are the audience and someone is doing a presentation with 100 slides and it takes 50 minutes. Hopefully, they brought some nice pillows.
Don’t Read From Your Script
Making eye contact with your audience is important. If you read from your script all the time, you will miss the all-important communication with your audience.
Don’t Create A Picture-Poor, Text-Rich Presentation
Note that people can’t read and listen at the same time. Use more pictures. People will listen and you can engage and inspire them emotionally.
Don’t Come Unprepared
When preparing your pitch, make time to think of all the questions your audience might have and be prepared to explain the matter.
Don’t Use Small Fonts
Use fonts that can be seen by all audience members. Use 32 to 44 for titles, and no smaller than 28-point for the text or points.
Get to know your audience. I mean, really really get to know them. Find out what their names are, what they work for, what they want and need in life.
Use this information throughout your pitch and get amazing rapport that will make them your best friends for the moment.
3 Famous Pitch Decks
Creating a pitch deck is no easy task despite the pitch of presentations. This guide showed you the basics, but why not learn from the best as well? Here’s a list of the best pitch decks:
- AppVirality https://www.slideshare.net/LaxmanPapineni/appviralitycom-investor-pitch-deck
- Square https://www.slideshare.net/vishaltx/square-pitch-deck-23990068
- AirBnB https://www.slideshare.net/PitchDeckCoach/airbnb-first-pitch-deck-editable
6 Legendary Pitchers
It’s been 13 minutes since this guide started and I think the best way to end it is to give you a list of the best out there.
People that inspired us, and (in a way) mentored us to become better presenters, speakers and overall leaders. Enjoy!
- Oren Klaff
- INVESTMENT BANKER
- An investment banker, bestselling author and a genius pitcher. His book Pitch Anything is the bible of all pitching books.
- Steve Jobs
- FOUNDER OF APPLE
- Is it really necessary to say anything here? Remember the iconic iPhone speech? The master of stage presence and delivery.
- Sheryl Sandberg
- FACEBOOK COO
- If someone can make people take action in just 18 seconds, then that’s some mighty persuasion skills that even Aristotle would envy. Check her out.
- Winston Churchill
- Historical Badass
- Being bombarded day and night, and still being able to get up and raise the morale of a whole freaking country, is a trait of someone who has courage and amazing oratory skills.
- Tony Robbins
- Inspo Guru
- Janitor turned rockstar inspirational speaker. I think that’s enough to signify the type of pitching and presenting skills you need in order to succeed in life.
- Don’t let the marble head fool you. One of the founders of the Western civilization, Socrates was sentenced to death after kicking ass at a public hearing and destroying his accusers. What a way to go, eh?
Thanks for reading through this massive guide.
One of the main goals I have here at Viktori is to teach people how to become better at communicating with others because I believe it’s one of the most important skills that people can have if they want to succeed in any area of their lives.
If you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to contact us or drop us a comment below.