Potential investors and customers don't have time for lengthy presentations - they want to know what you're offering, fast. Pitching your business in a snappy, confident way can be the difference between a sale and a snub
- Be confident: confidence makes it easier for people to believe in you. Smile, make eye contact, use relaxed gestures and be enthusiastic without being over the top.
- Practice your pitch in front of the mirror, family, friends, colleagues and anyone who will listen. Take note of their feedback.
- Keep it brief: listeners lose interest in long presentations. Give them the essentials and invite further questions after your pitch.
- Vary your pitch according to your audience: investors will be interested in how you plan to make money, customers will be more concerned with the benefits to them.
- Clarify your unique selling proposition: your audience needs to understand why your business is different from others in your sector. When you introduce yourself, say what makes you special.
- Focus on your solution: what are you proposing with your pitch? What problem will you solve? Why should they invest or buy from you?
- Stick to headline points: outline your key messages swiftly and avoid lengthy explanations. You can fill in the detail later.
- Simplify: make your product accessible by describing it in layman's terms. Don't use technical terminology unless your audience has specialist knowledge.
- Show awareness of your market and acknowledge competitors. Demonstrate that you know what they're up to and how your offer compares.
- Invite questions: after your initial pitch, invite questions from your audience. Be prepared to prompt them by asking some of your own - about their needs in particular.
- Anticipate: knowing your audience will enable you to have ready answers to hand to likely questions.
- Listen: listen to what they have to say and answer their questions clearly and calmly. Don't be defensive if you feel you are being quizzed or pretend to know what you don't - if you don't have an answer, admit you don't know and offer to find out.
- Thank your audience for their time and hand out business cards and marketing materials. Invite your audience to contact you if they think of something else they want to know or if they would like to meet you again.
- Make notes afterwards and learn for next time: what worked well? What didn't? What questions were asked? Be prepared to adapt or even completely change your pitch in order to make it work better each time you deliver it.
- show confidence in yourself and in your business
- encourage a two-way dialogue
- be brief, clear and to the point
- differentiate your business
- be aggressive or pushy
- use industry jargon
- talk over people
- get defensive under questioning
For more information on sales pitches, see the Resources box on the right.