Do’s and Don’ts of Pitching
It was confession time at the recent meetup: I get angry easily. Bored, disappointed, but definitely angry when I have to sit through a lousy pitch. Here you are, with the opportunity you’ve been dreaming of, and instead of wooing us, you blow it. Who let you in? I want to lash out. Why aren’t you prepared?
Before you pooch your next shot at stardom, consider these Don’ts of Pitching:
1. Don’t do a demo. Even Steve Jobs can’t always get it to work, so you think you will? Save it for later, after we’re more interested.
2. Don’t show a video. “Look, we’ve been on TV!” Just tell us, don’t make us watch some CNN TV personality gush over your startup.
3. Don’t clutter your slides with photos.
4. Don’t put elaborate diagrams on your slides. I’m terrified that you’ll explain every part of it!
5. Don’t do an introduction. “Here’s what I’m going to tell you…” No, please. Just get started. This isn’t Toastmasters.
6. No summaries, either. I’m chomping at the bit with questions. Don’t make me wait. Just stop when you’re finished.
7. No timelines, please. I know Guy Kawasaki likes these, but what a waste of breath! Let me guess, you started here on the left, you created something here in the middle and now on the right, you need money! I get it. Next slide.
8. No paragraphs of text. Let’s go further, no sentences either. Because when you fall behind or get nervous because we’re all checking our Blackberries you’ll start reading your slides.
9. Don’t read your slides. We can read 6x faster than you can speak. Don’t torture us.
10. Don’t hand off the next part of your presentation to your partner. We assume he can talk, but there’s a 50-50 chance we won’t like him as much as you, so don’t get fancy, keep going. Next slide.
11. Don’t orate, narrate. We’ll remember stories and tell them to our friends. Don’t stand up there and deliver a memorized speech.
12. Don’t show us detailed financials in microscopic font, this is a presentation.
13. Don’t cram your slides with text. When I suggest, “if you had used a smaller font you could’ve squeezed even more text onto that slide”, I’m not being helpful. That’s sarcasm.
Tomorrow, the Do’s.