How To Successfully Pitch For Big Money

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March 20, 2015
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This week I had the chance to attend the Boston Women’s Venture Capital Summit. It was an amazing experience to see and hear both successful entrepreneurs and angel investors talk about what it takes to attract big money into your business.

During the summit, eight entrepreneurs had a chance to pitch and get feedback from 2 panels of investors. I was so impressed by the entrepreneurs, each one giving a thoroughly prepared presentation in front of two hundred people. Talk about pressure. They all did very well, but not all of them nailed it. There was a clear distinction between those who scored and those who didn’t.

What was it that made one presenter stand out over the others…?

It was CHARISMA baby!!!

Definition: compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others. “she enchanted guests with her charisma” Synonyms: charm, presence, personality, force of personality, strength of character; magnetism, attractiveness, appeal, allure

It was their ability to “hook” the audience which in this case was the angel investors. Hooking them meant the difference between potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars…. or nothing.

It is absolutely crucial to create an emotional connection with your audience. You could have the most beautiful power point in the world or the most convincing business plan, but if you cannot communicate your personal value, you’re not gonna get the gig. Sorry, but just isn’t going to happen.

I asked the angels on break what they looked for most when deciding to invest in a new venture and consistently their answer was “It comes down to the person or the team. I would take an A person with a B market any day over a B person with an A market.” Whoa, that’s intense. “We have to know why YOU are the right person to solve this problem and you better make a compelling case.”

It just shows that people bet on people, not models. There has to be a connection, a STORY, your story. And that story had better highlight your strengths and unique value. And, and, and… you need to be able to tell that story in a clear, confident and compelling way. You know why….?

Because you only get one shot and there is someone right behind you waiting to give his pitch! Maybe he has his story down cold, is going to melt the audience and end up with their big fat check in his pocket.

Of course, you have to do your homework, you do have to have a killer business plan and know your numbers, but if you don’t set the stage, you will never have the chance to let your brilliance shine. Whether you are pitching to an angel investor or a potential client, you must be able to demonstrate you are the perfect person for the job.

Here are a few tips to help you become more charismatic:

1. Smile. Ok, this is a no-brainer, but it’s so important. There is all kinds of research that shows people who smile are perceived as being more attractive, more confident and more likely to get promoted. If it does not come naturally to you, especially under pressure, make a conscious effort to do it. Practice in the mirror if need be, but remind yourself to do it even if it feels uncomfortable at first. You will soon relax as you see others smiling back at you:):):)

2. Use humor. Don’t be afraid of seeming unprofessional by using appropriate humor. The more people like you, the more favorably they will view your presentation. People like people who make them feel happy!

3. Connect the dots for your audience. Know your story and how it connects with your idea. The connection may be obvious to you, but not your audience. You may have to spell it out. I have been asked many times about the connection between my operatic singing background and my branding/business consulting. The connection is obvious to me (sopranos are great at telling other people what to do;) see, made you laugh!

4. Be real. You may not be the most polished person in room. Maybe you are naturally shy or reserved. You don’t have to do a soft-shoe routine to get attention, just be yourself. One of the presenters at the summit was very pregnant and very out of breath. Instead of trying to be stoic, she pointed it out and went on with her presentation. No need to put on airs. If you really lean into who you are, it will be quite charming.

5. Practice. Come on, you knew this was coming. The more you practice, the more confident you will get. Practice if front of as many audiences as you can. You will get invaluable feedback from doing this, not just about your presentation skills, but about your whole pitch, the offer, the product, the market etc. You may hear one idea from someone that could change the whole course of your company.

Do not be fooled into thinking your performance doesn’t matter, that you can get by on your intelligence and talent. There is just too much competition out there. You have to find a way to connect and make an impact. Not doing so could cost you millions.

If you want to nail your next pitch, I can help. For a Complimentary Consultation, click here:



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Heather Poduska is a brand strategist, business coach and opera singer who helps entrepreneurs and small business owners create client attractive brands, polished brand images and brand communication strategies to increase their visibility and impact in the marketplace and grow their businesses.