Got Pitch? Are you promoting your business, your start-up, your campaign for president? Please hear this: Your pitch will not get better until you smash it to bits and start over. Not grumpiness, not exaggeration. This is what I've seen and proven over years of coaching.
Pitch Build: What the brain hates more than thinking is disapproval. Use that!
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The scoop: We humans get into ruts. Lazy habits that feel safe and comfy. In the 5 seconds walking to the front of the meeting your brain becomes a comfort-seeking machine. Safe takes over. Safe start-ups die. Big scary ideas win.
You could verify all that right here in Thinking Fast and Slow, the book by Daniel Kahneman. But that's 500+ pages. So shorter: 500+ pages prove exhaustively that humans don't like to think hard, resulting in stupid mental shortcuts. Shortcuts map to the logical gaps in your pitch, the failure to tell the point of the story, the missing transitions that live listeners by the side of the road. BIG Bummer 'cause good pitches take hard thinking.
Solution: Practicing with others helps because what the brain hates even more than thinking hard is disapproval. More about this later. Meantime here are some warning signs That your pitch is stuck in the lazy brain rut:
Do listeners edge away, get restless or go blank?
Do listeners argue with you about what you just said?
Do listeners give phony praise and change the subject?
Prescription: Go to a live pitch event. Get to the front of the room. Deliver two minutes and ask for honest feedback. Have a friend take notes. You might be too distracted. OR, if you're lucky enough to live in San Francisco, come to my workshop on 12 May 2015 in San Francisco. Right HERE. At this event you'll get actual creative energy and skill devoted to leading out of ruts and onto the success highway. Are you willing to say yes to better?
You'll get a complete reset out of lazy brain rut mode and into re-building mode. So just pitch it! And the event is free.
In the end, pitching is like every other start-up activity. It's better to fail fast, fail often, and keep a tight loop between the product and the market. Pitching is your first product. Come learn how to build the pieces to make the message that puts you in the game. Innovation only matters if it excites. And be willing to think slow
Pitching is done live…usually. But what about the pitching done when you send out your “deck”? When others repeat what you said? When they share your contact info? All these events still matter a lot. That’s why we strive to make the pitch strong, memorable, and especially repeatable. yet it’s still likely to get distorted and weakened when repeated.
That’s where video comes in. With a sharable “pitch” video you can guarantee that important people will get a crisp, clear, and impactful introduction to your project, it’s promise, it’s needs and it’s next steps.
So start making video and getting comfortable in the medium. The time constraints and the one way nature of video “force” you to refine and delivery your message with discipline. That’s extremely valuable. Oh, and don’t share crappy video. If you can afford it, engage a pro!
Hack your pitch with persuasive stories, and big-picture descriptions that capture the value. Thanks to all the attendees for your contributions to this workshop. You can download the PowerPoint slide deck HERE:Hacking The Pitch – Roy Terry
Join me at a free open workshop where you can learn about winning pitch structure and technique. AND practice both in small groups and to the whole room. Tuesday, 13 May 2014, at 12:00 in San Jose. Full Details are here on Meetup.com
Pitching Explained:Structure and Practice for a winning
Tuesday, May 13, 2014, 12:00 PM
Hanhai Investment, Inc. 97 E Brokaw Rd (suite 210) San Jose, CA
27 Founders Went
OverviewStarting with the essential concepts and structure, this workshop quickly outlines the requirements of a great Silicon Valley Pitch. Several well known suggested formula’s are reviewed and evaluated. After reviewing “standard” sources, we address the individual challenges in creating, practicing and tuning the pitch to fit the specific opp…
Here are the questions from last week’s workshop that we still need to address directly.
Difference pitching to angels or VCs?
Typical Faults in the pitch
How to describe the market and the competition
What’s hot (What investors are most interested in)
Do Angels and VCs need different pitches? No. But the style and formality will probably vary a lot. Keep in mind both kinds of investors need the same information in order to justify their risk of investment. But the stakes are higher in absolute money terms for the VC. The angel, risking smaller sums may decide to “make a bet” more quickly on less information. Because, afterall, at the angel stage you have accomplished and proven less. I believe an angel pitch will probably rely more on claiming a high value potential in your unique solution and talents. Those things you will have at early stage. For the VC, they will expect further validation of your market potential, competition, go-to-market, etc. These are two variations of the same pitch just optimized for the audience and data you have at hand.
Typical Faults in the Pitch. This is just review of the workshop. 1) Structure is muddy. Follow format of Problem, Solution, Market, Business model. 2) No Bear: make sure your problem description includes impactful detail and emotion about the seriousness of the problem and the number of people seeking a solution. 3) Tell a story of discovery or a story of “proof” of the validity and appeal of the solution.
How to describe market and competition?Start with a review of MBA style materials on line or on your bookshelf. Markets are described first in terms of dollars. The size of a real or hypothetical market ia annual dollars spent. Then there are fancy ways to further detail using terms TAM, SAM, etc. Thing is, many startups are looking to CREATE new markets or extend established markets in disruptive ways. What then? I have seen no fixed rules except numbers and logic. You should compare your “new” market with similar markets for similar people seeking to solve similar problems. Then you can make a whole serious of logical steps to justify your market claim. Keep the steps as few as possible, the logic tight and the numbers easily findable on Google, etc. You will be challenged to justify your claims! Get the market claims in your pitch reviewed and critiqued by an expert in your segment. Please! Another helpful “starting out” resource from an Oregon incubator
What’s Hot (what are investors currently interested in)? This is a bit like asking what kind of movie Hollywood wants to make next year. They want to make a winner! In Hollywood being a copycat is more convincing than being a copycat in silicon valley. Every enterprise must have a unique value and positioning to succeed. Now the hot buzzwords are certainly still big data, the cloud, customer facing architecture, mobile apps, social networks for special interests and the internet of things. But what will sell is your unique proposition and you’ll have to have passion behind it. So this question is not so useful unless you can get your passion adjusted to match the buzzwords. Paul Graham’s advice, “Just make life better for people”
Dear meetup attendees, the slides I presented were meant to be a “fly by” of samples and examples of pitching best practices. If you’d like to follow some of those same starting points (and also please do search on your own with Google, YouTube, and slideshare) Here is a run down of the content. (a few more yet to come…) – Roy