Nailing the Five-Minute Pitch

You only have a few minutes with the undivided attention of your dream investor. Therefore, one of the most fundamental assets an entrepreneur can possess is the ability to deliver a fine-tuned and well practiced five-minute pitch. On the basis that nearly anyone can pay attention for five minutes, if you can present your ideas within that time frame, you can almost certainly keep your audience’s attention until the end.

An excellent “company pitch” leaves your audience inspired. However, this is often easier said than done. In this recent article, CEO of SlideRocket, Chuck Dietrich, recommends things you can do to perfect this invaluable skill.

The audience should walk away with the ability to restate your company’s vision, a clear picture of how you will achieve that vision, and the economic ramifications of attaining it. If the audience is inspired and can accurately re-tell your story, then your presentation was effective.

The tips that Chuck Dietrich presents can work for almost any presentation, which of course adds to the versatility of this skill, but are more specifically for the  pitchmen at startup companies, who often need to make concise yet elegant points very quickly.

1. Know thyself. Before you create your presentation, take stock of the company vision, goals and roadmap. If you are still working on the exact vision and goals, then choose a story and stick to it. Be honest with yourself. Is your company unique? Does it have big barriers to entry, a unique technology, or patentable intellectual property? You can make a great and compelling presentation to influencers and VCs even if your company isn’t a “one and only.”

It is important to convey to your audience how your company will handle the roadblocks that will inevitably come up in its future. By recognizing the fact that your company will have its flaws, as opposed to glazing over these concerns as if they won’t exist, you will gain credibility and build an honest relationship with your audience.

2. Present the facts. The following facts are crucial to include in your presentation: The overall market size for your product today; a list of competitors and differentiators; your basic business model (licensing fee, subscription, one-time fees, revenue share etc.); how much funding you’ve raised (if any); names of key team members and their micro-bios.

3. Be passionate. The most important thing you can convey to your audience is passion. Don’t lecture to them or read off of slides –- tell your story with emotion and energy. Passion is palpable and will engage a room from the start.

The most memorable of the five-minute pitches are those delivered with passion. Take advantage of the short opportunity given to you and be not only a compelling salesman, but a great storyteller.

You’ve come this far. What should you do if the pitch fails? Try to harvest as much value from the pitch as possible, and leave with an understanding of what went wrong. Ask for feedback from those in the room, and redeem the investment you made in the pitch by learning as many lessons as possible from this failed attempt.

Why should we believe in you? If you are able to succinctly and efficiently present the right information to your investors, you’ll be one step closer to that second meeting.

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