Pitches are bitches and this is how to deal with them

Ever dared to use the default presentation template that everybody uses? Please don’t! You’re basically burning my eyes right now. Just joking! Why do pitches and their layout matter anyway?

One day you will present a product, project or other fabulous stuff to clients, companies, friends, family and so on. Basically, you want to convince them how awesome your product or project is AND why they should use or invest in it. One moment of silence for those who didn’t get how important this is. It’s a really big deal and I’m sure you don’t like to mess this up.

You’re probably wondering right now: “How can I prepare my pitch properly?”

More important: do you know what a pitch really is?

A pitch is a very short catchy presentation. It is an interesting method to convince the audience to inform, invest or sell your solution. You might wonder: “What do you mean by a very short presentation?” Mostly, it takes five or eight minutes to pitch the whole idea. Even at some hackathons or contests, they can show a countdown for the pitch and question & answer. This sounds stressful but if you prepare your pitch and slide deck properly, you will do fine.

You know nothing

If you don’t know what your project or product is about, how in the hell can you pitch it? In case you do know what it is about, try to talk with a complete stranger about it. A high chance that they don’t’ know that much about it or lost you during your mini pitch.

A good exercise is to try summarising your project in one clear sentence. Avoid using specific terms or simplify them to easy words. Next up, people would wonder which problem you are trying to solve.

Beauty of slide decks

Want to create your own slide deck? Sounds like a battle plan. A (slide) deck is a structured way to present your idea in a presentation format. However, it takes effort and it is necessary to validate it at least one time with someone who doesn’t know your project. Now comes the interesting part: “How to create your own deck?”

A great way to convince people by using a deck, is by making the Business Model Canvas exercise. This great tool allows you to analyse your stakeholders, costs, revenue, customers, resources and so on. This method can help you to validate and iterate your solution.

Any issues with finding the right arguments why someone could benefit from your solution? Then the empathy map is a great thing to map a person’s sentiment. Write down what he sees, hears, thinks and does with it. One difficult question to think about: If this person uses your solution, why does he love it?  Wonder why: what is holding him back to use it?

During some hackathons and competitions in Brussels and Lille (France), most teams used the following format:

  • Tell about your team
  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Description product/solution
  • Technologies used
  • Market size
  • Customers
  • Testimonial (if you have one)
  • Business model and revenue
  • Funding/capital
  • Future steps
  • Contact

This format covers a lot of financial, technical and business related questions. Take note that it doesn’t mean that you need to cover all these topics in your deck. Your deck depends on your audience and topic. The format that is represented here is more applicable for startups.

Grab your audience’s attention

First impressions are always important. Same goes for slide decks, well-designed deck grabs the attention of the audience more often. This is because the presentation doesn’t look like the default template everyone uses. It is always fabulous to create your own template which makes reusing it in the future easier. The following slide deck is very appealing and awesome:

 

Some tips for designing your deck. Did I mention that bullet points are quiet passé? Including pictures or illustrations is always a plus. (Always check the copyright thingy) Don’t try to overload your deck with lots and lots of colours. Less is more.

Forewarned is fore armed

Lots of trial and error. Before you end up pitching to a real audience, dry run your presentation a couple of times. There are several methods to dry run your presentation.

Speak to a random person and pitch it. After this ask him what he knows about your solution. Hurray, if he could tell what your solution is about! Otherwise, ask him what wasn’t clear about your pitch and/or deck.

Pitch softLaunch #oSoc15

Picture by @brechtvdv

Gather an audience of family, friends or colleagues. Give your presentation and let them ask questions at the end of the presentation. After this, let them give you feedback.

Some organisations organise pitching battles, where people or teams can pitch their solution for a real audience. The audience can ask questions and even give feedback when needed.

Cliché thing: practice your pitch in front of the mirror.

Anyways, keep practicing! Good luck :-)

In case of failure: fail fabulous and learn from it!

 

 

I hope you enjoyed my blogpost! Ping me on Twitter, if you have any questions.

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