Question: What is the No. 1 thing I should avoid when making my first-ever pitch and why?
The answers below are provided by members of FounderSociety, an invitation-only organization comprised of ambitious startup founders and business owners.
Not Communicating Your Value Proposition
Don’t lose focus of the overall goal of communicating your value proposition. If the prospect fails to see it, you’ll never get them sold no matter how hard you tried or how much effort went into your sales deck.
— Steven Newlon
SYN3RGY Creative Group
The best pitches look like they’re off-the-cuff, but they’re not. Smooth delivery and confidence comes from a lot of practice. I’ve heard so many people say, “I speak best when it’s not rehearsed” or “I’ve thought about what I want to say in my head.” Then they get up there and wonder why they bombed. The amount of preparation you put into your pitch will show when you deliver it.
— Maria Burns Ortiz
7 Generation Games
Using Fluffy Adjectives
Do not use empty sales words. The idea is to combine logic with emotions, and using adjectives like amazing, incredible, etc. don’t emphasize your point. They make the listener feel like you are pushing your opinion rather than facts. Make sure that the emphasis of your pitch is on the problem and how your company is the solution to that problem.
— Jessica Baker
Not Speaking Clearly
You know your product inside and out, but your audience doesn’t, so keep this in mind when pitching. The faster you speak, the faster they will zone out. Keep a slow, steady tempo, gauge body language and project your voice with confidence.
— Ben Maitland-Lewis
Not Knowing How to Explain What You Do
The only thing worse than going into a pitch unprepared is going in and not knowing how to quickly and effectively explain what you do. If you can’t explain your business model, how it works and how your audience is going to benefit from it, you’ve already lost their interest and a chance of getting a deal or investment. Bottom line: practice and know your pitch!
— Zac Johnson
There’s a fine line between being confident and arrogant and being approachable and overly casual when pitching or presenting. Even if the norm in the situation is to wear sneakers and a t-shirt, don’t blow off questions or act like you’ll make money with no effort. You’re not the first person who thought they would get rich quick.
— Ross Faith
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