How to Prepare for Investor Pitch Competitions and Win

How to Prepare for Investor Pitch Competitions and Win

Investor pitch competitions can be a great way to be seen by potential investors, build your network and, if everything aligns well, win some prize money for your startup.

Last night the winner of the Women Founders Network 2017 Fast Pitch competition was Sashee Chandran, the founder of Tea Drops. I was ecstatic because I was her pitch coach. As a coach and trainer, there’s nothing more gratifying than when you see the people you work with do what it takes to excel and reap the rewards of their hard work.

Tea Drops makes a great product that hits on many levels – it’s delicious, healthy, organic, fair trade, made in the USA, convenient, and visually appealing. Clearly, Sashee was off to a great start before she began pitching investors.

The other CEOs who pitched their companies last night were also impressive. Quite often, even the people who don’t win pitch competitions, but pitch very well and have a great business concept, receive funding from investors who saw them pitch. If you’re planning to enter a pitch competition, assume the other pitchers will be great and prepare thoroughly so that no matter what you will have no regrets.

Here are some tips to ace investor pitch competitions. There’s more involved in the process, and success comes from how you complete each step, but this will provide a roadmap to get you started. These are the steps I took Sashee through to help prepare her for the competition.

Refine and streamline your pitch deck.

Be sure your deck answers the major questions that will be in the minds of your audience in your presentation. Address the problem, solution, market size, potential, competition, financials, marketing plan, team, and how you use the funding.

Have your pitch deck reviewed by someone outside your company.

This is always where I begin when people come to me for pitch coaching. When you’re too close to something, it’s hard to see it clearly. Having your pitch deck reviewed by someone who has looked at hundreds or thousands of them with a professional eye will help you to see where the holes are and what needs streamlining.

Refine your deck again.

Although it may be tempting to try to slide by with your current deck, take the time to make the necessary changes that you were advised to make. (This is one of the first things I admired about Sashee when we first began working together. She listened to my feedback and immediately went to work on refining her deck after I reviewed it.)

Rehearse delivering your pitch until it is IN you, and continue elevating your delivery.

Most people underestimate how many times they should rehearse a pitch or presentation. My recommendation is to rehearse it as many times as it takes for you to run through it without wondering what comes next. When you can deliver your pitch as if you are fluidly telling a story that you know inside and out, your mind won’t be focused on trying to remember: you will be more fully present in the moment and able to share your passion.

Get feedback on your delivery.

You might video yourself and watch your video to try to improve your performance, but having a trusted advisor give you feedback on your body language, word usage and other elements of your communication will be even more helpful.

When I prepare clients for investor pitches or pitch competitions, I provide feedback and recommendations on all aspects of their delivery so they show up exuding confidence, authority and warmth (a very winning combination).

Prepare for the Q&A.

In most pitch competitions, after you have delivered your pitch there is a brief question-and-answer session. Prepare responses to every typical question and tough question you might be asked, and rehearse delivering them. Savvy investors will want to know that you’re able to objectively see any potential roadblocks and have plans to work around them.

Take good care of yourself and block out several hours prior to the pitch competition.

Be sure to leave time to clear your head and relax before the pitch competition. Try to avoid dealing with draining tasks that can be dealt with another day. Conserve your energy so you show up centered, joyful and confident.

Take the stage and shine!

From the moment you’re in view, you’re being watched. Walk on stage (or to the front of the room) with confidence and positivity. Take a beat to center yourself and then begin.

If you’ve done the work, the very least you will do is your very best.

 

If you want help preparing for investor pitches, a pitch competition, or other presentations, click here to arrange a complimentary consultation with me.

Lisa Elia, Founder & Lead Media Trainer & Presentation Trainer at Expert Media Training®This post was written by Lisa Elia, a Los Angeles-based media trainer, presentation trainer, pitch coach, communication expert and speaker. She trains clients for media interviews, speeches, internal and external presentations, investor presentations and promotional videos. With more than 20 years of experience, Lisa has prepared clients for interviews with TODAY, GMA, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, ESPN, and hundreds of other outlets. Lisa has shared her expertise with national media outlets that include Inc., Entertainment Tonight, E! and many others.

To discuss your training needs, contact the Expert Media Training office at 310-479-0217.

Passion Is Not Enough – Messaging

Passion Is Not Enough – Messaging

When delivering a speech, presentation or media interview, speaking from the heart is important, but your message must also make sense logically. There are times when a very passionate speaker can draw people in by affecting the audience emotionally, but if upon further reflection the argument or position presented by the speaker doesn’t hold up intellectually, the message loses its potency and the credibility of the speaker is called into question.

The best messages resonate with the heart and the head.

 

 

Trust and Body Language

Trust and Body Language

“I don’t trust you. I don’t know why, there’s just something about you.” – These are words some entrepreneurs have heard spoken on “Shark Tank” and they’re words that no one wants to hear after a media interview, presentation or pitch. What leads to a lack of trust? Quite often it’s body language. In conversations or when watching you in media interviews or presentations, people generally pay more attention to body language than they are consciously aware of doing. Most people process language and speech in the left hemisphere, and nonverbal or spatial skills in the right hemisphere. While your audience or viewers may hear every word you say, part of their brain is assessing your body language, noticing any disparities between your words and your movements or other “tells” that may indicate the lack of truthfulness, confidence or commitment to your words. The more you know your material well, are committed to your ideas and gain the confidence that comes from mastering your content, the more your body language and movements will be authentic and synchronized with your words. This will help you to establish trust with your audience. Read a more in-depth post about body language.

Lisa Elia, Founder & Lead Media Trainer & Presentation Trainer at Expert Media Training®This post was written by Lisa Elia, a Los Angeles-based media trainer, presentation trainer, pitch coach, communication expert and speaker. She trains clients for media interviews, speeches, internal and external presentations, investor presentations and promotional videos. With more than 20 years of experience, Lisa has prepared clients for interviews with TODAY, GMA, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, ESPN, and hundreds of other outlets. Lisa has shared her expertise with national media outlets that include Inc., Entertainment Tonight, E! and many others.

To discuss your training needs, contact the Expert Media Training office at 310-479-0217.

Memorizing Speeches and Interview Responses Can Cause Detachment

Memorizing Speeches and Interview Responses Can Cause Detachment

Verbatim memorization of a speech or responses to interview questions can detach you from your content and from the very people you’re trying to reach; the audience, the interviewer, investors.

Memorization places your focus on remembering exact words and phrases, instead of where it should be, which is on communicating your ideas or information with emotion and effectiveness.

For the vast majority of people, attempting to deliver word-for-word speeches, pitches or interview responses backfires. Here are a few reasons I don’t recommend verbatim memorization:

1. Memorizing content word-for-word can detach you from the meaning of the words. Saying something the exact same way over and over can dull the emotions attached to your content to a point where it almost becomes meaningless. If you rehearse your presentation or interview responses repeatedly with the same wording, you may even develop “semantic satiation,” in which certain words temporarily stop having meaning to you.

2. Delivering content that you have memorized can detach you from the audience or interviewer because when you focus on retrieving exact words for a long stretch of time, you are not as fully present in the moment. This would emotionally detach you from the very people you’re trying to reach with your message.

3. With a memorized verbatim speech or response, if you become distracted and forget one word or phrase, you can feel completely lost and throw your entire presentation or interview off course.

4. The pressure of knowing you must remember a verbatim speech can heighten nervousness or anxiety you might feel before a presentation or interview. Why put that extra pressure on yourself?

The temptation to memorize presentations, speeches or responses to interview questions lies in the generally erroneous belief that this will offer some guarantee of success. Adding to this, sometimes people become very attached to specific phrases that they believe sound great. As any good editor will tell you, it’s dangerous to fall in love with your words: they might get eliminated.

Instead of memorizing your presentation, speech or media interview responses, do this:

1. Map out the journey you want to take people on with your presentation or interview responses.

2. Master your content. It’s best to know and thoroughly comprehend everything you’re talking about. For CEOs and other company spokespeople who may be asked about a wide array of topics that may or may not fall within their areas of expertise, this can be challenging. For them, some of the content to master would include explanations of who can address the question and why this is so.

3. Practice verbalizing your content multiple different ways and many times. Knowing a lot about a subject is quite different than speaking about it confidently, concisely and compellingly.

“It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech,” Mark Twain said.

4. Get feedback. It’s difficult to assess your own effectiveness in conveying your message, your body language and overall communication style. Feedback from a trusted source can help.

If you want to feel fully prepared and confident for interviews, presentations or pitches my advice is to get professional training. The preparation techniques, feedback, skill development and outside perspective that a good trainer provides can save you years of trying to figure things out on your own and enable you to be the best communicator you can be. You might be thinking that of course I would advise this, given that I’m a media trainer and presentation trainer, but I wouldn’t have become a trainer if I hadn’t seen the great need for thorough and thoughtful training in my many years as a PR counselor and publicist.

If you or someone in your organization seems pulled toward memorizing a presentation, remember this: People want to feel that you’re communicating with them from your heart and your head and that the ideas or information you are conveying are so much a part of you that you don’t need to memorize a speech or response to speak about them. Unless you’re an amazing actor (on par with Academy Award winners), you probably can’t make your memorized words appear to be thoughts that are emerging naturally. If you seem unnatural, you will be perceived as lacking in authenticity or confidence.

Confidence comes from mastery, and mastery comes from proper preparation and practice.

Lisa Elia, Founder & Lead Media Trainer & Presentation Trainer at Expert Media Training®This post was written by Lisa Elia, a Los Angeles-based media trainer, presentation trainer, pitch coach, communication expert and speaker. She trains clients for media interviews, speeches, internal and external presentations, investor presentations and promotional videos. With more than 20 years of experience, Lisa has prepared clients for interviews with TODAY, GMA, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, ESPN, and hundreds of other outlets. Lisa has shared her expertise with national media outlets that include Inc., Entertainment Tonight, E! and many others.

To discuss your training needs, contact the Expert Media Training office at 310-479-0217.

Media Trainer Shares about Preparing for Presentations: Questions and Answers from Shark Tank Teleseminar

Media Trainer Shares about Preparing for Presentations: Questions and Answers from Shark Tank Teleseminar

Inspired by ABC TV’s Shark Tank, I recently hosted a complimentary teleseminar, with Financial Expert Dean Erickson, to share tools, advice and strategies on helping entrepreneurs calm their nerves, on preparing for presentations and on landing great sponsors and lucrative business deals.

During the Get Ready for Shark Tank Teleseminar, I received many great questions from attendees. In case you’ve missed this on my Facebook page, here are the questions, along with my answers.

If you have any additional questions, feel free to post them on my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ExpertMediaTraining

Q: What if you are presenting something that is completely new: nobody else is doing or has done it in the past? How do you run projection numbers? Service business.

A: If your concept is brand new, most investors would want to see proof of concept, so you should provide the service and create a track record of measurable results. Projections will be challenging, but if you can show that there is a viable market and that you can make money, and that you can expand the service offering beyond what you can provide as an individual, investors could be interested.

Q: How do you protect your idea during the Shark Tank/pitching process?

A: Consider working with an intellectual property (IP) attorney, who can help you with copyrights, trademarks and patents. Beyond that, if you’re approaching investors (not the Sharks on Shark Tank), you can ask them to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) before you share the details of your idea. If you’re going on Shark Tank, remember that it’s televised, so don’t share anything you wouldn’t want to broadcast to the world.

Q: How much of the development process will they assist you with if the idea is complex?

A: Each Shark (and each investor) is different. The Sharks generally want you to have developed the product beyond the prototype phase so that you can present them with an idea of manufacturing costs, and so you can have had time to sell the product and test the market. There are some investors and venture capital firms and business incubators that help more with product development than others. This is where research comes in.

Q: Will the Sharks consider working with me if the concept of my idea is simple, but the construction is a bit more complicated than my level of expertise?

A: It’s possible. However, the Sharks more often invest in a business that’s going than they do in an idea that needs development from the beginning. Most investors would expect you to do the legwork of finding a designer or engineer to help you develop your idea further, before you approach them.

Q: Which Shark in your opinion would you recommend?

A: Each Shark has his or her specific abilities, personality traits, interests and industry connections. It’s good to think through what you need and how you work best, and then consider which Shark would be the best fit for you. However, as you can see by watching the show, sometimes the Sharks surprise you, and the Shark you’d never imagine would step up and say yes to a deal does, and the Shark who seemed like the obvious fit for the project declines.

Q: I noticed how the contestant will tell the Sharks that they do their own social media and SEO. Is that necessary to do your own labor or delegate it?

A: You don’t have to handle your own social media or SEO. However, as the head of your company, you should be very involved and know your numbers. Social media is used by most companies for marketing and PR purposes, so the management of social media should be taken seriously as a marketing/PR function. SEO is also an aspect of marketing, so you should know your numbers, such as numbers of unique visitors to your site, and, possibly, demographics of your site visitors.

Here are more links you might find useful:

About our Pitch Coaching

How To Prepare for Presentations – 6 Tips to Make Effective Presentations – from a Presentation Trainer

Acronyms and Abbreviations in Media Interviews and Speeches

Body Language in Interviews and Meetings – Nonverbal Communication

 

Lisa Elia, Founder & Lead Media Trainer & Presentation Trainer at Expert Media Training®This post was written by Lisa Elia, a Los Angeles-based media trainer, presentation trainer, pitch coach, communication expert and speaker. She trains clients for media interviews, speeches, internal and external presentations, investor presentations and promotional videos. With more than 20 years of experience, Lisa has prepared clients for interviews with TODAY, GMA, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, ESPN, and hundreds of other outlets. Lisa has shared her expertise with national media outlets that include Inc., Entertainment Tonight, E! and many others.

To discuss your training needs, contact the Expert Media Training office at 310-479-0217.

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