4 Ways Not to Start Your Pitch Presentation
by Gilda Bonanno
The first few minutes of your pitch presentation are some of the most important – when you have the opportunity to make a good first impression and capture the investors’ attention. In those crucial few minutes, the audience will decide whether what you have to say is worth listening to, which will greatly impact their decision whether or not to invest in your business.
Here are 4 ways NOT to start your pitch presentation:
1. With Ums, Ahs and a Whimper
“Um, thanks for having me here at this, uh, pitch meeting. It’s, uh, a great, um, opportunity for my, uh, business, which is, ah, called, Acme Widgets. And, uh, I guess I, um, will just start by, uh, telling you a little bit, um, about the, uh, business….”
Don’t waste precious time at the start of your presentation meandering into your topic and over- using ums, ahs and pause words. You’ll bore the investors and come across as less than confident. Instead, jump right into your content with a strong, enthusiastic, attention-getting opening that engages the audience immediately. Practice delivering it with confidence and a minimum of distracting pause words.
2. Doing a Sound Check
“Can you hear me in the back?”
While it’s crucial to ensure the investors can hear you, the start of your presentation is not the time to do it. If you’re truly concerned about voice volume, practice in the room before your presentation and have someone stand at the back of the room to determine if they can hear you. If you know you speak softly, then request a microphone and if one is not available, make a point of speaking louder.
If you’re still worried about your volume, have someone stand behind the investors or at the back of the room and give you a signal at the start of your presentation to let you know if you can be heard easily. (And by the way, logically, if people can’t hear you, they also can’t hear you ask, “can you hear me?”)
3. Admitting You’re Unprepared
“I didn’t get a chance to finish preparing this presentation…”
Prepare your presentation ahead of time so you're not unprepared. Don’t insult your audience by showing up with a half-baked presentation that you threw together that morning. It hardly inspires the type of confidence in you that will encourage them to pull out their checkbooks and invest in your business.
And even if for some unexpected reason, you didn’t have time to finish preparing the presentation, don’t advertise your lack of preparation or start or with a list of excuses about being too busy to prepare.
4. Boring the Audience
“I know this is not as exciting as some other businesses, so I’ll try my best not to put you to sleep.”
Even if you don’t come right out and make this statement, your lackluster body language, monotone voice and lack of eye contact will broadcast it loud and clear to the investors. If you can’t muster up enough enthusiasm about your business to start on a positive and energetic note, there’s no hope that the investors will be interested enough to want to hear more about it. It’s your responsibility to explain why your product or service is important and interesting, however complex or simple it is to understand.
Remember, the pitch presentation is not just a chance for investors to learn about the nuts and bolts of your business, it’s also an opportunity for them to meet you. Prepare and practice a captivating and energetic opening to make a good first impression and draw the investors into the story of your business.
Gilda Bonanno is a speaker, trainer and coach who helps people from all walks of life improve their communication and presentation skills. Copyright (c) 2017